Thursday, April 28, 2011

Harper and Health Care

I thought health care would have driven more of the debate on the North Shore.

Canadian Press. "Harper also said co-payments by patients, user fees and delisting of some Medical services would help repair the Health System"

Research conclusively shows that user fees drive costs up not down. People do go to the doctor less often, but that is the problem. Many small treatable aliments go undiagnosed until they become more serious and much more costly to treat and people with chronic diseases visit the doctor far less than is good for themselves or the health care system.

Of course, there is one thing Canada can do to greatly reduce health care costs and both the NDP and Liberals are least partially receptive to idea, but which Stephen Harper has never had any time for and that is a national pharmacare program.

"For the past 20 years, prescription medications have been the fastest-growing segment of health-care spending: according to the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), from 1985 to 2007, the share of drugs in the total health expenditure increased from 9.5% to 16.5%; last year the drug bill totalled a whopping $30 billion."

But rather than seek ways to keep costs down, the evidence suggests that government has for years continuously and consciously overpaid. Part of the problem, it seems, is that drug coverage is fragmented — government picks up about 45% of the tab while private insurers and individuals pay the rest — which has acted as a disincentive. Instead of bargaining with pharmaceutical companies for lower prices, says Marc-AndrĂ© Gagnon, an assistant professor at Carleton University's School of Public Policy and Administration, "the whole pricing system is based on the idea that we need to artificially inflate costs to create a more business-friendly environment." (In exchange for higher prices, drug companies pledged to invest at least 10% of Canadians sales on research and development.) But as he argues in a recent paper, this practice has raised prices without prompting significant spinoff investment: Canada now pays up to 40% more for drugs than other industrialized countries. (He estimates that adopting a national pharmacare program would save an estimated $10.7 billion annually."

You would think that a man who spent 3 years heading up an organization dedicated to the destruction of public health care and two more years as VP would know more about health care economics, but I guess we should not expect too much of him given his views about higher education.
Stephen Harper "I think we're vastly over-invested in universities. Universities should be relatively small"


RePete said...

IMHO the reason that health care hasn't come forward as an election issue is that the two parties trying to talk about it have ZERO credibility in the matter..

The libs are the ones who gutted healthcare funding for several mandates in a row so they have no credibility.

The NDP has Jacko who complains about the idea of private health care... and who of the federal leaders has attended such a private clinic?

Some were more equal than others.

Anonymous said...

Ah Koby, you've surfaced! Love how you're including the NDP in things you like to do - "...both the NDP and Liberals... etc."

Are you anticipating the upcoming Liberal trouncing by the NDP and softening us up for the amalgamated New Liberal Democratic Party?

Anyway, lots of huff and puff about efficient purchasing of prescription drugs. Odd (but predictable) that you're criticizing the Conservatives as that function is under the authority of the Provinces. Each Province lists and delists various drugs and services which their Medical Plan will cover.

Some months ago my retiree's association asked us to write our MLAs and Provincial Health Minister to encourage the Province to allow purchase of generic drugs as approved by your physcican and bulk purchase of drugs to reduce Plan costs.

Reasonable suggestion when properly directed.

Barry Rueger said...

When I moved back to BC a few years ago I was horrified to discover how many things had been delisted by the BC Government, and how prevalent co-payments, extra billing, and private clinics have become.

It's the first time in Canada that I've been conscious of being a "have not" when seeking health care - more like the US than the country that I grew up in.

Anonymous said...

Yes, the restriction of drugs and procedure that meet the BC plan criteria is quite restrictive. (It's a matter under provincial authority and nothing to do with "Harper and Health Care" as proposed by Koby).

There has been a high profile case on the news lately where a young man has a treatable terminal disease. BC doesn't list his required drug as one that meets the Plan criteria yet Quebec does pay for his drug.

This guy will die without the expensive drug. I don't know what else he can do but perhaps move to Quebec. Horrible situation.

Anonymous said...

Guess your nonsense didn't work, Koby?

Anonymous said...

And we won't hear from him again for at least four years, God willing!

Anonymous said...

God Willed!

Dale said...

I find your meaning of health care very interesting. The research itself says it all. The costs go up because people tend to go to the doctor when their illnesses are very serious.

major medical insurance plans

John said...

It's all about politics I think. That's why there are a lot of issues on what the two parties do. I hope they can deal with them.

adult day care centers

Erica White said...

Health care cost are becoming more expensive these days. I hope that they'd give discounts for our elders in retirement communities New York because they no longer have major source of income.