Competition, Not Money, will Cure Health Care

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posted February 20, 2003
Yesterday’s federal budget committed $35 billion over the next five years to cure Canada’s health care system. Let’s curb our enthusiasm.

Historically, more public health spending has not resulted in better health outcomes for Canadians.

In fact, we already have a very expensive health care system.

Canada’s health spending, as a share of GDP, is high relative to other industrialized democracies that guarantee universal access to health care. Indeed, when we take into account that Canada has a younger population than these other countries, such as Sweden, Canada has the highest spending on health care.

What do we get for this big spending? Shortages of physicians, nurses, and diagnostic equipment.

When it comes to tools such as MRI machines, Canada ranks with Turkey, not Sweden.

Waiting lists for diagnosis and surgery grow longer every year.

Other industrialized democracies get a bigger bang for their health care buck because they allow competition with the government system.

Only in Canada is the government a monopolist. Canada forbids private hospitals from competing against public ones.

It prevents private insurers from competing against provincial health plans. It does not allow patients to take control of their health choices by leaving more money in their pockets.

A better health care system will result from competition, not another $35 billion.

I’m John R. Graham of the Fraser Institute and that’s The Last Word.

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