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Canadians should be allowed to buy health care in Canada

Canadians should be allowed to buy health care in Canada

May 1, 2014

We Canadians should begin questioning our freedom when it comes to how we spend, or should I say, how we are forbidden to spend our money. The culprit is our broken health care system.

We do a lot of things right in our home and native land but the present delivery system for medical services is broken. Now that broken system is doing things that a less polite nation would not tolerate.

A well-known Toronto hospital is experimenting with a business model that will allow them to sell medical services to patients from other countries.

For example, two patients from outside of Canada paid for radiation treatment. One received treatment for breast cancer for the price of $60,000 and another paid $20,000 for prostate cancer treatment.

The Sunnybrook Hospital profited on these procedures which they can use to support a very tight cash flow; an issue affecting all hospitals. From a hospital’s perspective, this is a creative way to generate revenue.

While costs have been increasing, Ontario has frozen hospital budgets for the last three years. Four downtown Toronto hospitals have treated 380 foreign patients since 2011 and this year they expect to collect $7 million in revenue.

At the same time, medical tourists are travelling to Canada to receive treatment, Canadian’s are travelling to the United States to receive some of those same medical procedures.

Many Canadians believe if they get sick here in Canada they can cross the border to receive good, timely medical treatment in the United States. Some illnesses such as cancer are best treated quickly before the disease has time to spread.

The anxiety of waiting for care while knowing you might die because of the wait is emotionally draining. Those same patients may prefer to stay at home, keep their current doctors, be supported by friends and family and receive treatment in Canada.

Our entire capitalist system revolves around our right to choose how we spend our money, except with health care.

We cannot purchase some critical medical services in this country at a time when critical medical services are a “need” item as opposed to a “want” item. In some cases, these are the most important items we may want to buy.

We can travel to another country to purchase medical services and those from other countries can come here to do the same. We have a free country. We can spend our money as we see fit but unfortunately, we cannot spend money on health care in this country.

The chief executive officer of the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario recently was quoted as saying something that is hard to believe, was actually said. She spoke of the two parallel systems for serving Canadians and foreigners.

The quote was “At this point it’s for people outside of the country but who is to say tomorrow it won’t be for people inside the country?”

To me, that is like saying we should hire security guards to ensure a Canadian does not receive the same treatment as someone who is not Canadian.

If we Canadians want to spend our dollars on medical care in Canada and not in another country, then Canada should happily take our money. Those funds could be used to help pay for the significant costs of our universal health care system where everyone is able to receive medical treatment.

Health care is becoming increasingly more expensive. Every Canadian should have the right to purchase medical services and while preserving its availability for everyone. This financial contribution will help us all.