Candidates were asked a simple question at an April 20 Tri-Cities campaign meeting:
Do you support the privatization of our healthcare system?
Liberal incumbent Linda Reimer gave a revealing answer:
I do support the privatization, to a certain extent, of our healthcare system…
I myself have had surgery in the private healthcare system… I do support some choice for those who are able to afford it.
Yes, that is the attitude shared by the moneyed class. If you can afford it, you should be entitled to jump the queues and get medical care while the less fortunate wait. Linda Reimer did it herself.
At least Reimer was honest in admitting that Liberals want to privatize health service. However, she was not truthful in claiming at the meeting that Liberals plan to increase provincial spending on health by $4.2 billion over three years. The actual number is less than half that amount.
The numbers are taken from the Budget and Fiscal Plan 2017-18 – 2019/20:
Dr. Vanessa Brcic, a Vancouver-based family physician and community-based researcher, published last year about health care systems, public and private. Excerpts:
Evidence indicates that privately funded health services and long public wait times go hand in hand, and that growth in private payment will do nothing to alleviate it.
Let’s look at the evidence:
- Koehoorn et al. studied cost of care and return-to-work time for 1380 WCB patients in BC who received privately funded and public services for knee surgery, and found that expedited, privately funded care was more expensive and did not improve return to work times – patients receiving care in the public system did marginally better for a fraction of the cost.
- Australia expanded private insurance, and found that it did not decrease wait times; rather, in regions where private insurance was most often used, wait times in the public sector rose.
- Tuohy et al, in a study of all OECD nations with parallel private insurance for health care, found that privately funded care produces longer wait times and draws resources out of the public system.4 They also note that shortening wait times in the pubic system is usually most successfully achieved by increasing the amount of public investment, not by increasing the amount of private investment.
- Beasly, studying patterns of private insurance in the UK, found that increased use of private payment is correlated with increased waiting lists, and that the two are causally related. As more patients and physicians use the private pay system, not only do the resources leave the publicly-funded system, but the pressure to restore public resources declines, as fewer people (and in particular fewer affluent people) apply political pressure to ensure that public wait lists are addressed.