Obama’s re­forms: good for Canada?

The Citizen-Record (Cumberland) - - OPINION -

United States Pres­i­dent Barack Obama seems to fi­nally be suc­ceed­ing in de­liv­er­ing health care to Amer­i­cans who pre­vi­ously could not af­ford health in­sur­ance cov­er­age, and for that he should be ap­plauded. His pres­i­dency has had far from smooth roads to travel, but this land­mark leg­is­la­tion could ce­ment his legacy for gen­er­a­tions to come.

While many Cana­di­ans might be happy to see their south­ern neigh­bours bet­ter taken care of, how­ever, they might want to con­sider that this move could very likely take a toll on Canada’s al­ready over­whelmed health care sys­tem.

Think about it. Obama’s re­forms are ex­pected to re­sult in health in­sur­ance be­ing of­fered to about 45 mil­lion Amer­i­cans with no pre­vi­ous cov­er­age, and should also ben­e­fit mil­lions more who were pre­vi­ously un­der-in­sured. Th­ese peo­ple will now be able to make more vis­its to pri­mary care spe­cial­ists like fam­ily doc­tors and pe­di­a­tri­cians. There is go­ing to be a much higher de­mand for th­ese ser­vices now, and there is al­ready a short­age of doc­tors in the United States.

Con­sid­er­ing that Canada al­ready has a hard time hold­ing onto its doc­tors be­cause of higher pay­days avail­able for them in the U.S., one could ex­pect this drain to be­come even more se­vere as the Amer­i­can health care sys­tem ramps up its re­cruit­ing ef­forts.

The only an­swer is that the Cana­dian sys­tem must be­come more com­pet­i­tive, and make it more ap­peal­ing for doc­tors to stay home. It must also start pro­duc­ing more doc­tors by en­cour­ag­ing young peo­ple to at­tend med­i­cal schools. Ed­u­ca­tion in­cen­tives must be pro­vided to those who choose to stay and prac­tice in Canada.

No health sys­tem, pri­vate or pub­lic, can sur­vive without doc­tors, and we can­not af­ford to lose any more of ours.

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