Public Health Care on the Skids
Not surprisingly, health care in BC is on the front burner again.
If you are shocked by the machinations in the Vancouver Coastal and Fraser Valley Health Authorities, you shouldn’t be.
Simply put, our health care system doesn’t work.
We are like a family living in a neighbourhood far beyond our means and buying our groceries on a maxed-out credit card.
Anyone who has lived with a stretched budget knows sooner or later the elastic is going to snap.
Throwing more money at this problem isn’t going to solve anything, other than forestall the inevitable for another election cycle.
Health spending in BC has increased over 25% since 2001 and spending alone this year will increase over 7%, with the pre-budget announcement from the Health Minister last week. In raw numbers, the Ministry of Health will spend $13.1 billion in this fiscal year, including a $100 million for a Health Innovation Fund.
Health care spending accounts for 42% of our provincial budget. Some projections have it at 70% by 2017.
If almost half of your household expenses were taken up with one item, you might feel some pressure to get innovative on spending.
You might choose not to participate in some activities, or sell your car, or not eat out very often. Maybe you would get a roommate. Perhaps you would even have to move to a less expensive city.
What many find frustrating about this situation, which exists across Canada, is the unwillingness of governments to consider innovative solutions because of fear of a vicious lashing from voters who have bought into the mythology of public health care.
Public sector unions, among other vested interests, are threatened by public/private mixed health care, although they operate in many European countries relatively successfully. They point to the U.S. and tell us that is what we’d get with health care reform. How ridiculous. Why don’t they reference Germany or Norway?
Why not consider that our grocery stores are all privately run. No one is starving in our country because of private grocery stores. In fact, due to the competition and efficiencies of the private sector, we have the opposite problem: an abundance of cheap food. We get flyers in the mail every week encouraging us to visit a new grocery store and check out the bargains.
Thankfully, no one is suggesting that governments should run the grocery stores. Or book stores. Or Laundromats.
So how is it we believe that health care is the only part of society for which market economics don’t apply, against overwhelming evidence to the contrary?
There is no doubt we will have to reform our precarious health care system. Let’s start now, rather than wait for the creditors to start pounding on the door.
As seen today in 24 Hours