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A health care system can remain public and universal all while allowing entrepreneurs to compete to provide services and attract clients, instead of leaving patients trapped in a public monopoly that fails to respond adequately to the demand for treatment. But first, we have to get over our fears concerning the role of the private sector in health care.
Canada is the only country to limit the role of private health insurance exclusively to the coverage of services not insured by the public system. Canada is also alone in prohibiting doctors from practicing in both the public and the private sectors. Whereas 99 per cent of hospitals in Canada are public, in all other countries, private institutions have an important role to play in the provision of hospital services. Private, for-profit hospitals make up over one third of all hospitals in Germany (42 per cent), France (39 per cent) and Australia (36 per cent). Beyond any doubt, patients would be the first to benefit from such a pragmatic, evidence-based outcome.
Is it Groundhog Day in Alberta? We Albertans seem doomed to wake every day to the same thorny and emotional debate: public health care vs. private health care.