Private Health Care Taking Root in Canada

TORONTO, Feb. 19 – The cracks are still small in Canada’s vaunted public health insurance system, but several of its largest provinces are beginning to open the way for private health care eventually to take root around the country.
Last week Quebec proposed to lift a ban on private health insurance for several elective surgical procedures, and announced that it would pay for such surgeries at private clinics when waiting times at public facilities were unreasonable.
The proposal, by Premier Jean Charest, who called for ”a new era for health care in Quebec,” came in response to a Supreme Court decision last June that struck down a provincial law that banned private medical insurance and ordered the province to initiate a reform program within a year.
The Supreme Court decision ruled that long waits for various medical procedures in the province had violated patients’ ”life and personal security, inviolability and freedom,” and that prohibition of private health insurance was unconstitutional when the public health system did not deliver ”reasonable services.”

For the full story, see:
CLIFFORD KRAUSS. “Ruling Has Canada Planting Seeds of Private Health Care.” The New York Times (Mon., February 20, 2006): A4.

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