Wednesday, June 20, 2018

The private cost of health-care queues in Canada

Our closed government-heavy system stands in stark contrast to other universal health-care systems that have shorter wait times

By Bacchus Barua
Associate director of the Centre for Health Policy Studies
The Fraser Institute
Bacchus Barua
Bacchus Barua
It's no secret that Canadians face some of the longest health-care wait times in the developed world. According to the Fraser Institute's annual survey of physicians, at 21.2 weeks from referral to treatment, Canadians waited longer in 2017 than ever before.
And for some patients, wait times can have serious consequences.
While this may be obvious for patients in need of critical care, it's also true for Canadians waiting for medically necessary elective care such as hip replacements, hernia repair, cataract removal, aneurysm surgery and non-emergency pacemaker operations, for example.
It's estimated that more than one in 10 patients are adversely affected by waiting for non-emergency surgery. Physicians indicate that patients wait longer than what's considered clinically reasonable. And, of course, of the more than one million Canadians who waited for care in 2017, many would likely prefer to receive treatment earlier if possible.
The reasons are obvious. Patients waiting for treatment may be in pain, may be worried, and may have to depend on family or friends for assistance, or hire caregivers. In the most unfortunate cases, patients may also see their conditions worsen, from simpler and more treatable conditions to more complex, debilitating and perhaps permanent or fatal disabilities.
And then there's the economic cost, in the form of lost wages and productivity. Based only on the wait from specialist consultation to treatment (10.9 weeks on average across Canada in 2017), and the number of hours in the normal work week, wait times cost the Canadian economy an estimated $1.9 billion - roughly $1,800 per person waiting. And this is a conservative estimate, which excludes the wait to see a specialist (10.2 weeks in 2017) and places no value on non-working hours spent pain-free. If you include hours outside the work week (while still excluding eight hours for sleep), the cost of waiting goes up to $5.8 billion or roughly $5,600 per patient.
Of course, only patients experience the true cost of waiting for treatment. However, even rough estimates are useful to remind policy-makers of the need for reform.
But waiting is not a necessary price to pay for universal health care. Countries such as Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Sweden, France and Australia all share the goal of universal access to care, and spend about the same as we do, but don't have our long wait times.
Perhaps because they do universal health care differently by embracing the private sector, expecting patients to share in the cost of treatment (with exemptions for vulnerable groups), and incentivizing hospitals to treat patients through activity-based funding by procedure or case, rather than 'global budgets' common in Canada. Our closed government-heavy system stands in stark contrast to other universal health-care systems that have shorter wait times.
Sadly, the data have been clear for a long time. Despite spending increases, wait times for medically necessary elective treatment in Canada are remarkably long and have been getting longer for years.
However, we must remember that these long waits are not simply statistics - they underscore the reality that many patients in Canada suffer pain and anxiety due to the nature of our system.
It's time to do something about wait times by reforming policies or, at very least, offering patients an alternative when they need it most.
Bacchus Barua is associate director of the Fraser Institute's Centre for Health Policy Studies.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Ditch the Chemical-Laced, GMO Hot Dogs this BBQ Season -- Get The True Story™ About Organic Hot Dogs

When it comes time to enjoy the summer, for many, grilling is a must. Unfortunately, that often means sacrificing health for great taste. True Story™ makes it easy to have both with  organic, non-GMO hot dogs and sausages made with only a few simple, real ingredients.

SAN FRANCISCO, June, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Not all hot dogs and sausages are created equal.  In fact, the lowest quality of these types of food – laced with chemicals and additives – barely even qualify for the name and more resemble something like a science project. The good news is that True Story, makers of Organic or Project Non-GMO Certified meats have the solution to this problem well-handled. The company provides a healthy alternative this hot dog season with their famous Organic Grass-Fed Beef Hot Dogs, perfect for fun times at the grill this summer. The only 'additives' you'll get with these hot dogs are the ones you want, like good ol' mustard and relish.
"Our hot dogs are a lot different than the ones I had growing up; wholesome, gluten-free, Non-GMO and never with anything artificial added," notes Kathryn Winstanley, Vice President of Marketing at True Story Foods. "These are the hotdogs you can be proud of, whether you are a San Francisco Yogi or Dad at a tailgate party."
True Story's all-natural line-up of Organic/non-GMO varieties perfect for summer include:
  • Organic Grass Fed Beef Hot Dogs
  • Organic Sweet Italian Chicken Sausage
  • Organic Thick Cut Oven Roasted Chicken Breast - A 2017 Expo East Nexty Winner
  • Organic Uncured Applewood Smoked Ham
Enjoy these globe-trotting recipes from True Story foods, and elevate your grill time:
True Story Italiano Hot Dog: Add some Italian flavor to your next hot dog
True Story Tropical Hot Dog: Mustard, relish and ketchup? You're outta here! A medley of tropical flavors to discover a whole new ballgame in a bun
About True Story:
What is True Story's Mission? True Story believes in a future of food that is a return to what is real and true. A future that is respectful of the source of our food –the soil, the animals, and the farmers. True Story is nurturing a community of family farmers, artisan producers, progressive retailers, and food lovers who are dedicated to this future.
True Story is available nationally in select natural and traditional grocery retailers and Costco. For more information, visit
Media contact:
Stacey Bender

SOURCE True Story Foods

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Vinitaly Roadshow China: debut in Shenzhen, Changsha and Wuhan 11-14 June


-          B2b mission for 46 companies including Italian wine cellars and distributors; tastings involving more than 300 labels. More than 500 accredited operators for the first stop-off
-          The Vinitaly-Nomisma Observatory estimates an average annual increase of 7.5% in Italian wine exports to China through to 2020. This is higher than the expected overall average local growth in demand of 6% per year
-          Collaboration with ICE-Italian Trade Agency is confirmed with the organisation of "I love Italian wines" training courses.

Verona, 11 June 2018 - Shenzhen, Changsha and Wuhan. These are the new stop-offs for the Vinitaly roadshow scheduled in China 11-14 June, whereby Veronafiere consolidates its presence in Asia, after trips to Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Chengdu and Vinitaly International Academy appointments.
The trade mission travels to three cities in the south-east of the country, totalling more than 40 million inhabitants. The future of demand for wine in China will be concentrated in cities, given the growing importance of an upper class enjoying high spending power (25% of the population by 2022) and a urbanization rate that will increase by 5 points over the next five years to 63%.
According to data published by the Vinitaly-Nomisma Wine Monitor Observatory, wine consumption in China grew by 3% in 2017 compared to 2016 with imports coming to 2.5 billion euros - thereby doubling in value over the last ten years. Italy's market share in the opening months of 2018 sis 7% and growth margins for Italian exports are consequently still very high. Yet the first vital step in winning over new consumers is to promote the quality and variety of Italian wine production among importers, agents and the horeca channel.
With this objective in mind, Vinitaly - the leading international event in the sector organised by Veronafiere - has scheduled three events in Shenzen (11 June) Changsha (13 June) and Wuhan (14 June), bringing together 46 companies in China, including Italian wine cellars and Chinese distributors.
The formula envisages three days dedicated to b2b meetings and tastings of more than 300 labels exclusively for reserved for select professional audience. More than 500 operators have been accredited for the first stop-off in Shenzen. The implementation of the roadshow sees Vinitaly flanked by ICE-Italian Trade Agency, thereby complementing scheduled activities with the "I love Italian wines" training courses promoting awareness of more than 500 Italian native grape varieties. The initiative in China also welcomes the collaboration of Shenzen Pacco Cultural Communication, that already organizes the important IWSS-International Wine and Spirits Show in Chengdu.
"These three cities," said Giovanni Mantovani, CEO of Veronafiere, "are strategic hubs for spreading the culture, history and lifestyle of Italian wine with a view to encouraging consumption. Italian wine exports to China have increased by 50% over the last ten years but we are still a long way behind the results achieved by our competitors. The Vinitaly-Nomisma observatory has estimated through to 2022 an overall increase in Chinese wine imports of 6% per year and 7.5% for Italian labels. This is the catchment of potential consumers we must focus on, not the least thanks to the support of ICE-Italian Trade Agency, with which we continue to work profitably within the scope of the Special Made in Italy Promotion Plan."

Monday, June 11, 2018

Food Addiction Is a Real Thing. But So Is the Power of Hope

Recovered Food Addict develops a proven program to release suffers from the bonds of 
Food Addiction and move them into a life of hope and Food Serenity.

TORONTO, June, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Food Addiction is a prominent issue in society with over 10% of the general population deeply addicted to food or overeating. The problem is real and millions are suffering. Sandra Elia used to be one of them.
At her worst, Sandra Elia reached over 260 pounds and felt defeated from failed diets and empty promises from dieticians. She'd had enough. She set out to conquer her addiction to food and won - losing over one hundred pounds and keeping it off for over 13 years. This fueled Elia's passion to help others break free and to create The Food Addiction Recovery Program in partnership with medical doctors specializing in the treatment of obesity. This program was Ontario's first government-funded [OHIP: Ontario Health Insurance Plan] 12-week outpatient program for Food Addiction Recovery.
Being a problem that Elia deeply understands, she wanted to develop a clear and effective program for successful healing from Food Addiction. She now has a proven method to get everyone to a place of Food Serenity.
"Food Serenity, as I call it, is about remembering who you really are, and what you really need to feel nourished, loved, and accepted," Elia explains.
Addictive eating is mindless eating, she adds. The antidote is mindfulness, leading to regaining the power of choice. This involves developing interventions, techniques, and a daily spiritual practice.
Elia guides clients in mastering their thinking to end the mind chatter that comes with compulsive overeating so they can experience food freedom. They finally come to a place where they can deal with intense feelings without using food.  Understanding the role dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins play in compulsive overeating are key. To guide others on how to overcome these triggers, Elia developed a cognitive behavioral therapy technique to remain calm and confident while facing cravings and urges. Over time, creating new neural pathways ends the addiction loop.
One of Elia's most effective programs is her 5-day Intensive Program. As one of the world's first Certified Food Addiction Counselors, Elia is a true pioneer in this field and developed her own system for taking clients out of their environment and placing them into a therapeutic and natural setting. This gives them a chance to detox from ultra-processed foods, extinguish cravings for sugar, and eat to stabilize hormones. Clients achieve appetite correction and come to a place of neutrality with food.
Each day of the 5-Day Intensive Program features a talk from a world-renowned expert in Food Addiction and Obesity Management. A daily visit from a chef ensures all clients leave with a solid understanding of meal preparation.
Along with personally helping others struggling with food addiction, Elia is working with a professional team to hopefully develop a formal diagnosis of Food Addiction in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM–5). The DSM is the handbook used by healthcare professionals in the United States and much of the world as the authoritative guide to the diagnosis of mental disorders with descriptions, symptoms, and other criteria.
Sandra and her team are striving to educate healthcare providers and offer appropriate assistance to those who suffer with addictive eating. She has worked diligently with a professional team comprised of medical doctors, addiction doctors, researchers, physiologists and physiatrists to develop these programs that have yielded tremendous success. Through these programs, clients have achieved personal success including losing weight, reducing certain medicines, and most importantly, breaking free from Food Addiction.

More about Sandra Elia
Sandra Elia knows first-hand the pain of living with morbid obesity. She has made it her life's mission to help others recover from addictive eating.
She is a Coaches Training Institute (CTI) Certified Professional Coach, and the Vice Chair for the Canadian Obesity Network (Toronto Chapter). The Canadian Obesity Network is Canada's authoritative voice on evidence-based approaches for obesity prevention, treatment, and policy.
Elia hosted a radio show on VIBE 105.5FM called "Your Daily Diet, A Spiritual Guide to a Healthy Body Size," which broadcasted to a base residential audience of over 1.6 million. Through that and other programs, she helps people tackle their minds and correct their thinking patterns, which is the single greatest obstacle to losing weight. Her brand's focus is on healing the whole person - mind, body, and spirit.
Learn more about Elia, her successful programs and the truth about Food Addiction at
Sandra Elia

SOURCE Sandra Elia

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Picnic Perfect Recipes

No picnic would be complete without these pack and go perfect picnic recipes. Celebrate the lovely weather with these salads and sandwiches and take these delicious bites outside.

Monday, June 4, 2018

How to shorten hospital wait times in Canada

We can address the supply of surgical procedures, the demand for surgery and improve co-ordination within the system

By David Urbach
Expert Advisor
David Urbach
David Urbach
Long wait times are the vulnerable soft underbelly of the Canadian health system.
Canadians treasure our single-payer, publicly-funded program of physician and hospital care, virtually as a defining part of our national identity. And yet, increasing legal and political pressure over quick access to elective surgeries - cataract extraction and joint replacement, for example - threaten to undermine that support.
The Commonwealth Fund 2017 report ranked Canada last among 11 countries in timeliness of care.
And a case before the British Columbia Supreme Court aims to topple provincial regulations that limit private payment for medically necessary services, claiming that surgical wait times for elective procedures such as arthroscopic knee surgery violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The truth is that few people anywhere in the world are in love with their health-care system. Canada is no exception. Why?
Modern health care is expensive - so expensive, at C$5,900 per person per year in Canada, US$9,900 in the U.S. and £2,900 in the U.K., that it costs more than many people are happy to pay, whether through taxation, insurance premiums or out-of-pocket.
Many Americans still lack health insurance and even insured Americans may not be approved for every treatment they desire. Among developed countries, Germany has the highest public support for their health system but even there, 40 per cent believe the system requires fundamental changes or a complete rebuild. Sound familiar?
But this doesn't mean Canadians are doomed to long waits for elective surgery forever. There's actually much that can be done fairly easily without resorting to private payment. We can address the supply of surgical procedures, the demand for surgery and improve co-ordination within the system to gain significant improvements.
Increasing the supply of surgery can be achieved by paying hospitals using "activity-based funding" payments for each procedure they do for surgeries like joint replacements, rather than receiving an annual global budget in the hope that they will meet the demand. Reimagining the way we use hospitals, incorporating new anesthesia techniques and virtual care to transform common procedures like joint replacement to day surgery can reduce costs and free hospital beds to further increase the supply of surgical procedures.
The demand for surgery is also elastic. Removing people who aren't in dire need of surgery from waiting lists improves access for those in greater need of services. It also prevents the overtreatment of healthy people, which is rampant in many areas of medicine - 32 per cent of patients waiting for cataract surgery in B.C. had near-perfect vision, in just one example.
Ironically, the case before the B.C. court - the most pressing legal challenge to the constitutionality of Canadian medicare - is in part about access to arthroscopic knee surgery, a procedure that might actually cause more harm than benefit in some patient groups.
Wait times in Canada may be long on average, but they're not long everywhere. Take the example of knee replacement surgery in Ontario. At first glance, the waits certainly seem long: in 2017, only 78 per cent of people had their knee replacement within the recommended six months and 10 per cent waited longer than nine months. In spite of this, half of all people actually had their surgery within three months.
Why is it that some people have surgery quickly and others wait?
Mostly because there's little co-ordination of surgical practices. Long ago, other industries adopted effective queue-management strategies that prevent situations where some people wait much longer than others. Single-entry models - where all people enter one queue and take the next available slot once they get to the front of the line - smooth out the waits and increase efficiency in banks, fast-food restaurants and at Disneyland.
Centralized intake, triage and referral of patients to appropriate heath-care providers - taking advantage of inter-disciplinary teams including nurses and physiotherapists - would go a long way to reducing variation in wait times and improving access to surgery.
Medicare is not perfect, but it's still very good at providing excellent quality care to all Canadians who become ill and require hospital and physician services. Decisive action to improve wait times is necessary to maintain the public confidence required to preserve our unique health-care system for future generations.
The good news is that this can be done by fixing medicare's problems with surgical precision, without killing the patient in the process.
David R. Urbach, MD is an expert adviser with, surgeon-in-chief at Women's College Hospital, Toronto and professor of Surgery and Health Policy at the University of Toronto. He is also senior innovation fellow, Women's College Hospital Institute for Health System Solutions and Virtual Care (WIHV).

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Throw Shade, Not Resting Squint Face on National Sunglasses Day

MyEyeDr. shares commonly overheard phrases on squinting, importance of wearing sunglasses.

Vienna, VA, May 31, 2018 --( While the majority of American adults report
spending time outdoors most often during peak sunlight, between 2:00 and 4:00 p.m.,
27 percent admit they don’t typically wear sunglasses when they are outside.
Sunglasses play a key role in protecting eyes from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays,
which can cause an array of symptoms.

According to The Vision Council, an independent authority in the optical industry,
the most common symptoms American adults experience due to sun exposure
 include: irritation in the eye (15.5 percent), trouble seeing (13.5 percent),
wrinkles around the eye (8.3 percent), red or swollen eyes (2.5 percent)
and cancer on or around the eye (0.6 percent).

Sunglasses also play an important role in maintaining one’s image, decreasing
 the chances of suffering from a case of resting squint face. MyEyeDr. coined
 the term to refer to individuals who squint through various life situations due
 to insufficient vision correction as well as recognizing the direct impact of
 failing to wear sunglasses outside during daylight hours.

In recognition of National Sunglasses Day[JS1] on June 27, MyEyeDr.
 shares some commonly acknowledged misconceptions which could in turn
pose risks for vision health.

· “It’s cloudy today, I’ll be fine just squinting.”
UV rays are just as dangerous on cloudy days as they are on clear days.
 Just like skin, eyes can accumulate harmful UV radiation on overcast
 days. If spending time outside is in the forecast, it’s important to ensure
eyes are protected. Avoid RSF with a fun wraparound style to shield the
 whole eye and the skin around them.

· “It’s summer, time to break out the sunglasses.”
Similar to cloudy days, UV risks exist even in cold weather. The sun is
 present year-round, which means UV rays are a constant regardless
of the temperature. UV rays can’t be seen, but their long-term effects
are extremely damaging to the eyes. While we celebrate National Sunglasses Day
 in June, it’s important to sport the shades all year round. And, for summer
 days spent lounging by the pool, cruising on a boat or laying on the beach,
consider special polarized lenses to reduce glare from the water’s reflection
in intense sunlight.

·“All sunglasses protect your eyes.”
Despite the health risks of UV exposure, not all sunglasses have quality
UV protection. Since UV protection is crucial to shielding eyes from damaging
radiation, it is imperative to look for a label, sticker or tag indicating
UV protection before purchasing a pair of sunglasses and purchase from
a reputable provider.
· “As long as sunglasses have dark lenses, they’ll work.”
UV protection has nothing to do with the color of the lens. Wearing
sunglasses with dark lenses and inadequate UV protection can actually
 be worse than wearing no sunglasses at all. Because darker lenses
cause the eye’s pupil to dilate, eyes are more exposed to unfiltered UV.

· “I only wear sunglasses when I drive.”
While only 68.6 percent of American adults report wearing sunglasses
 while driving, it is important to sport the suns during any exposure
 to natural light, including when casually spending time outdoors, relaxing
 near a body of water, watching a sporting event or participating in
 an outdoor activity. If you require vision correction, prescription
sunglasses offer a great choice to ensure you are seeing clearly and
protecting eyes from harmful UV rays.

“Many don’t realize vision loss is the number two health concern
 in the US, behind only cancer,” said Dr. Artis Beatty, chief medical officer
at MyEyeDr. “Incorporating sunglasses into your everyday routine is a
 simple way to prevent short-term damage, including sunburn of your
 eyes, and more serious vision issues from prolonged exposure, including
 cataracts and macular degeneration.”

Choosing the right sunglasses is critical for protection against the
 sun’s harmful rays, especially in locations that receive high
amounts of UV radiation. While many types of sunglasses boast
UV protection, there are a couple of key ingredients that a patient should look for:
1. Proper UV filter
2. Polarized lens treatments
3. Backside anti-glare coatings to protect from harmful sun glare.

For the best protection, schedule your annual eye exam to ensure your
 vision health is up to date and consult with your trusted optometrist
 to ensure you are properly protecting eyes from the sun. Most Americans
 have vision insurance, typically covering an annual eye exam.
 Your MyEyeDr. optometrist can help make recommendations regarding
sunglasses personalized to an individual’s lifestyle needs and unique vision.

About MyEyeDr.
MyEyeDr. is a network of local optometry practices located East of the
Mississippi. Each MyEyeDr. office offers comprehensive eye care services,
 a wide selection of designer and value prescription eyeglasses and
 sunglasses and standard and specialty prescription contact lenses.
 By welcoming all vision insurance plans and providers, MyEyeDr. makes
 vision health attainable for all individuals. The full-service eye care
management company is headquartered in Vienna, VA.
For more information about MyEyeDr., visit
or follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

Media Contact:
Jami Sowers
Largemouth Communications (on behalf of MyEyeDr.)
Contact Information
Jami Sowers

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Bubba's Fine Foods Rewrites the Healthy Snack Stereotype

The gluten-free, grain-free, paleo snack brand is giving the people what they want: real food snacks that satisfy real-world cravings.

DENVER, May 30, 2018 / -- Located in the epicenter of Colorado's natural and organic product industry is Bubba's Fine Foods--a pioneering paleo snack brand whose flavor-laden creations are convincing consumers there can be life after grains.

At Bubba's, they're standing apart from other paleo snacks by honing in on what the people want most: an addictive crunch and taste, simple real-food ingredients, and no refined sweeteners.
"After I was diagnosed with Type II diabetes I had to come to terms with the damage overly processed foods were doing to my body," said Bubba's COO and gourmet chef Jared Menzel. "I got my act together and dropped 150 pounds on a clean, high nutrient, and low-glycemic diet. The problem was that I missed the taste, and especially the crunch, of my old snacks."
His solution was to create his own.
  • Snack Mixes -- Pecans, cashews, and dried green bananas are liberally zested with taste bud awakening spices for the perfect on-the-go snack. Flavors include Savory Original, Righteous Ranch, and Smoky Chipotle BBQ.
  • 'Nana Chips -- These crunchy kettle cooked chips taste nothing like bananas! They use green bananas for the ideal level of spice without that banana sweetness or taste. Flavors include Blazing Buffalo, Grand Garlic Parm, and Macho Nacho.
  • UnGranolas -- No oats? No joke. This low-glycemic treat is filled with almonds, coconut flakes, and cashews for a satisfying crunch in yogurt, as cereal, or straight from bag to mouth. Flavors include Bourbon Vanilla, Uber Chocolate, and Cinn-Ful Apple.All of Bubba's Fine Foods' snacks are proudly made in America in the heart of Loveland, Colorado, and are paleo, grain-free, gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free, non-GMO, and free of refined sugars and artificial flavorings.   They can be purchased online at, Amazon, and national retailers Natural Grocers, Sprouts, Whole Foods, The Fresh Market, King Soopers, and more in select areas.
For additional information, contact Brooke Daily at brooke(at)
Since 2014, Bubba's Fine Foods has been at the head of a natural health food revolution with crunchy, real food snacks boasting addictive flavors. The company is run by gourmet chef Jared Menzel and health coach and former CrossFit trainer Jeff Schmidgall, brothers-in-law with a passion for placing the health of their consumers at the top of their priority list.

SOURCE Bubba's Fine Foods

Thursday, May 10, 2018


The Canadian Health Coalition is a public advocacy organization dedicated to the protection and improvement of Medicare. You can learn more about our work at

Facebook: CanadianHealthCoalition | Twitter: @healthcoalition
Ottawa, April, 2018: The Canadian Health Coalition, which represents health care advocates across the country, applauds the Parliamentary Committee on Health (HESA) on its report on a national public drug plan: Pharmacare Now: Prescription Medicine Coverage for all Canadians.
"It should be acted on as soon as possible", said CHC Chair Pauline Worsfold, RN. "Bravo! The Committee has not just recommended improved, universal public drug coverage for all Canadians, but has given us a clear road map for how to get there."
The recommendations provide a detailed guide for a federal-provincial-territorial drug plan that would include everyone. The Canada Health Act that now provides public health care for doctors and hospitals would be expanded to include prescription drugs. This would also mean a significant financial contribution by the federal government to the cost.
The committee also proposes serious improvements to the protection of Canadians from the self-interest of pharmaceutical companies. New drugs would be evaluated by an independent government agency free of influence by pharmaceutical companies. There would also be a new national data collection to collect and review adverse drug reactions.
The Committee also recommends transparent negotiations with the drug companies over prices, building on the work of the pan-Canadian Alliance, but with the important additional bargaining strength of covering the whole population.
What does all this mean? It means public drug coverage for all Canadians, as now exists for doctors and hospitals. It means an end to different access to drugs depending where you live and work. It means an effective process to negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies, reducing costs to a more reasonable level.
For more information, please contact: 

James Hutt
National Director, Policy and Advocacy (Interim)

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Private care is an essential part of an effective health system

We should stop demonizing private clinics - and the patients who need them - and recognize that they're part of the solution

By Bacchus Barua
Associate director
Centre for Health Policy Studies
The Fraser Institute
Bacchus Barua
Bacchus Barua
Last month, on the heels of a new threat from the British Columbia government to fine doctors who accept private payment for treatment already covered by the government-run health-care system, a trial - initiated more than seven years ago by a private Vancouver clinic led by Dr. Brian Day - resumed.
Day, a former head of the Canadian Medical Association, is fighting to allow privately-funded treatment for patients who the public system has failed.
Just a few days later, data from the Canadian Institute of Health Information (CIHI) reported that about one-third of patients in B.C. did not receive joint replacements and cataract surgeries within the remarkably long government benchmarks. And it's getting worse.
These events have again raised the contentious topic of patient cost-sharing and the appropriate role of the private sector within, and alongside, a universal health-care system.
Unfortunately, defenders of the status quo have misled Canadians into believing that to maintain universal health care, patients should neither expect to share in the cost of their treatment nor use their financial resources to access treatment outside the public system.
And yet a glance around the world reveals that private-sector options and cost-sharing are norms, not exceptions, in successful universal health-care countries.
A recent Fraser Institute study compared Canada's approach to universal health care with systems in Australia, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Each of these countries share the same goal of universal access to care, spend about same as Canada (some more, some less) but have remarkably shorter wait times.
And most of these countries embrace the private sector as a fundamental part of their universal health-care framework. In the Netherlands, for example, individuals are expected to purchase health insurance from private (including for-profit) insurers in a regulated but competitive market.
More than one-third of hospitals in Germany operate on a for-profit basis but are generally also accessible by patients with public insurance.
Even the U.K. has a robust parallel private system, often used as an alternative to the ailing public National Health Service (NHS). In fact, Prince Philip recently received a hip replacement at a private facility and questions have been raised about whether the NHS, which has long waiting lists, would have even treated someone his age.
All these countries except the U.K. accept cost-sharing as a normal part of universal health care. Cost-sharing establishes the right incentives to ensure patients make more informed decisions about when and where to use scarce medical resources.
Patients in Switzerland can expect to pay the first 300 franc (equal to roughly C$390) of their medical bills before insurance kicks in - and 10 per cent of the cost of their treatment, up to a maximum of 700 franc per year.
In Australia, although much was made of the government's recent see-saw on the question of a $7 fee for general practitioner visits, patients can still expect to pay about 15 per cent of the cost of specialist visits (sometimes more, if doctors charge above the government rate).
Of course, all the countries examined protect vulnerable groups, and therefore either exempt certain populations from payments (children, mothers), provide a government safety net or set annual ceilings on out-of-pocket expenses.
Only in Canada are doctors threatened with fines for looking after patients privately and outside of the government-funded system, while patients are made to feel guilty for paying for their own treatment. In no other successful universal health-care system does government step between doctor and patient, and forbid doctors from providing medically necessary treatment.
Of course, if our governments provided timely access to care, patients would be less inclined to pay for treatment. However, that's not the case. Data from the Fraser Institute's annual survey of wait times reveal that patients are waiting longer than ever.
Until governments in Canada realize that the private sector and patient cost-sharing are a normal part of universal health care, Canadians will likely continue to wait for the treatment they need within the confines of the only system available.
Bacchus Barua is associate director of the Fraser Institute's Centre for Health Policy Studies.