In a forthcoming bill (February 2000), the Alberta
government has proposed permitting the provision of surgical
services by private hospitals. Will this proposal improve health
care delivery? A thorough review of the medical economics
literature indicates that it will.
The Alberta proposal raises three issues. First, do for-profit
hospitals perform better than non-profit ones? Second, do private
hospitals (either for-profit or non-profit) perform better than
government-run ("public") ones? Third, does intensified
competition among hospitals enhance or reduce medical care? Each
of these issues has been extensively studied by economists and
health policy analysts.