Ca­na­da’s health-ca­re wait ti­mes hit new re­cord high

Alt­hough we know that universal sys­tems el­sew­he­re de­li­ver mo­re ti­mely ac­cess at si­mi­lar or lo­wer costs, we still pur­sue wrong-hea­ded po­li­cies

La Jornada (Canada) - - ENGLISH SECTION -

Ca­na­da’s na­tio­nal sha­me is at a re­cord high, with no cu­re in sight.

In 2016, we hit the 20-week mark for the ave­ra­ge wait ti­me for treat­ment by a spe­cia­list (across 12 me­di­cal spe­cia­li­ties) af­ter re­fe­rral from a ge­ne­ral prac­ti­tio­ner. Twenty weeks is a far cry from the 9.3-week wait mea­su­red by the Fra­ser Ins­ti­tu­te’s an­nual sur­vey in 1993.

You would ho­pe pe this mi­les­to­ne ser­ved as a wa­ke-up call for po­li­ti­cians and po­licy-ma­kers licy-ma­kers to im­pro­ve the dis­mal si­tua­tion fa­ced by pa­tients in n Ca­na­da. But this year’s sur­vey finds that wait ti­mes ha­ve ve wor­se­ned. At 21.2 weeks bet­ween re­fe­rral from om a GP to treat­ment, pa­tients wai­ted ted lon­ger than ever in 2017.

Pro­vin­ces such uch as Bri­tish Co­lum­bia bia

(26.6 weeks) and All­ber­ta (26.5 weeks) s) ha­ve reached their ir own his­to­ric highs, s,

Que­bec has bro­ken en the 20-week mark ark for the first ti­me sin­ce in­ce and pa­tients in New can ex­pect to wait al­most a

(41.7 weeks).

In so­me pro­vin­ces, pa­tients rou­ti­nely ex­pect to wait mo­re than a year for ort­ho­pe­dic sur­gery and neu­ro­sur­gery. In many ca­ses, phy­si­cians rou­ti­nely re­port that their pa­tients wait lon­ger than the phy­si­cians con­si­der cli­ni­cally reaso­na­ble (ne­ver mind what pa­tients would pre­fer).

The sim­ple and universal ques­tions:

Why do we wait so long?

Why aren’t things im­pro­ving?

The ans­wer to both ques­tions is al­so sim­ple, but pro­foundly frus­tra­ting. It’s be­cau­se po­li­cies ha­ven’t chan­ged.

Alt­hough we’re now mo­re awa­re than ever that universal health-ca­re sys­tems in ot­her coun­tries de­li­ver mo­re ti­mely ac­cess to qua­lity ca­re at si­mi­lar or lo­wer costs, we con­ti­nue to pur­sue the very po­li­cies that set us apart.

Ins­tead of em­bra­cing the pri­va­te sec­tor as a part­ner or even just as a pres­su­re val­ve, de­fen­ders of the sta­tus quo con­ti­nue to de­mo­ni­ze the pri­va­te sec­tor as an­tit­he­ti­cal to the very na­tu­re of universal health ca­re.

Yet when we look at so­me of the mo­re suc­cess­ful universal sys­tems, such as Swit­zer­land, the Net­her­lands, Ger­many and Aus­tra­lia, we find that pri­va­te in­su­rers and pro­vi­ders are deeply wo­ven 2003, Bruns­wick full year for treat­ment in­to the fa­bric of their sys­tems. For exam­ple, Swit­zer­land en­su­res universal co­ve­ra­ge th­rough a com­pe­ti­ti­ve (al­beit re­gu­la­ted) pri­va­te in­su­ran­ce mar­ket. Mo­re than 40 per cent of hos­pi­tals in Ger­many are pri­va­te, for-pro­fit ins­ti­tu­tions.

Ca­na­dian po­licy-ma­kers are al­so ob­du­ra­te in their re­jec­tion of co­pay­ments and de­duc­ti­bles. While such pay­ments are ex­pli­citly prohi­bi­ted by the Ca­na­da Health Act (via th­reat of fi­nan­cial pe­nalty to the pro­vin­ces), they are rou­ti­nely used in ot­her universal health-ca­re sys­tems.

For exam­ple, examp pa­tients in the Net­her­lands can ex­pect to pay a de­duc­ti­ble be­fo fo­re co­ve­ra­ge be­gins. In ad­di­tion t to a de­duc­ti­ble, pa­tients in Swit­zer­land are ex­pec­ted to pay 10 per cent of treat­ment costs. Most of the­se coun­tries al­so eit­her exempt vulnerable po­pu­la­tions, pro­vi­de sub­si­dies or m main­tain an an­nual cap for to­tal ou out-of-poc­ket ex­pen­ses.

Th The­se dif­fe­ren­ces, among ot­hers, bet­ween Cana Ca­na­da’s sys­tem and ot­her mo­re suc­cess­ful sys­tems are gen ge­ne­rally tied to Ca­na­da’s stub­born ad­he­ren­ce to a sin­gle-pa­yer mo­del. mod In Ca­na­da, go­vern­ment con­trols the pur­se strings, phy­si­cian and pa­tient in­cen­ti­ves are ob­fus­ca­ted, and in­di­vi­duals are ge­ne­rally ge­ne­ra not allo­wed to pay di­rectly for treat­ment wit­hin the country’s bor­ders. bo

Of cour­se, the­re are tho­se who choo­se to ig­no­re the plight of Ca­na­dian pa­tients and ins­tead fo­cus on dis­cre­di­ting the Fra­ser Ins­ti­tu­te’s sur­vey met­ho­do­logy. Per­haps they would ha­ve mo­re trust in da­ta from the Com­mon­wealth Fund, which re­cently ran­ked Ca­na­da last (among 11 coun­tries in­clu­ding Swit­zer­land, Ger­many and the Net­her­lands) in a) the abi­lity of pa­tients to se­cu­re a sa­me or next-day ap­point­ment when sick; b) the wait for treat­ment in the emer­gency de­part­ment; c) the wait to see a spe­cia­list; and d) the ove­rall wait for elec­ti­ve sur­gery.

Or per­haps the­se sa­me cri­tics could simply lis­ten to the thou­sands of Ca­na­dians wai­ting for treat­ment, in­clu­ding pa­tients who re­cently took to Twit­ter (with the hash­tag #Ca­na­daWAITS) af­ter Glo­be and Mail health re­por­ter An­dre Pi­card’s call for sto­ries. When it co­mes to the struc­tu­re of our universal health-ca­re sys­tem, we are the ex­cep­tion. Un­for­tu­na­tely, we pay for our ex­cep­tio­na­lism with long wait ti­mes that ha­ve be­co­me the de­fi­ning cha­rac­te­ris­tic of Ca­na­dian health ca­re. -TROYMEDIA

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