Part 2 (A Canadian Love Affair)

The most important explanation for this support can be found in what are known as the five principles of the Canada Health Act.  These are criteria for funding set out by the federal government, criteria the provinces must follow in order to receive financial support for their heath care services.  Simply put, these principles require that core medical services be universal, portable, accessible, comprehensive, and publically administered.  In other words, all Canadians must include all that is medically necessary, and must be provided regardless of age, prior condition, location, or employment.  And they must be provided without regard to ability to pay.  Canadian Medicare was designed to allocate care on the basis of need, not individual finances. 

And it worked.  The system has delivered on the promised access to care.  While “the number of uninsured Americans had risen to more than 40 million in 1995, virtually every Canadian is covered for essential care.  This contract in access to care can be traced to the basic philosophical approach used to fund services in Canada.  As one 1981 task force put it, “Canadians are endeavoring to develop a health care system directed at health needs – not a competitive system to serve an illness market.”

This is made possible by the single-payer system.  For the most part, health care in Canada is not provided by the government.  It is paid for by governments.  It is a public insurance system, a system in which governments at various levels pay for health services.  Most of these services themselves are provided by nonprofit organizations or by doctors working on a fee-for-service basis.  It is public payment for private practice and private provision.  This single-payer system has made care in Canada cheaper than in the United States, both because it significantly reduces administrative cost and because it allows for more coherent management of services….. This blog will be continued next week featuring exerts from the book, “Universal Health Care”.

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