Friday, July 08, 2005

63% of Canadians Would Pay for Health Care

The Conservative Party, as I mentioned in a post previously, must make their health policy known to Canadians if the results of this poll are accurate (Globe & Mail, Majority would pay for faster health care, poll finds):
  • 63% "would be willing to 'pay out of pocket' to gain faster access to medical services for themselves or their family members."
  • 55% "of Canadians agree with the Supreme Court decision that they should have the right to buy private health insurance if the public system cannot provide medical services in a timely fashion."
  • 73% "believed that the ruling was a step toward creating a two-tiered health-care system in the country."

The polling firm concludes that Canadians want flexibility.

So, despite Mr. Martin's assertion that nobody wants two-tiered health care (Globe & Mail, Martin vows strong, universal health-care), 55% want it for when the public health care system fails, and 63% are willing to pay if given the option.

An argument against this has been presented in the Commission on the Future of Health Care in Canada:

In 2001, 31 per cent of Canadians said they supported a “two-tiered” or “parallel” system when this option was framed as relieving pressure on the existing public system. Various questions have been asked of the public regarding privatization and two-tiered health care since 1998, and despite intense media coverage during this period on challenges to the system, support for private models has never inched beyond one-third of the Canadian population.

It goes on to indicate that 73% of Canadians support it when the system fails:

Yet, the report also found that most people are “sensitive to the desire among many Canadians to spend their own money if they are facing a lengthy wait for treatment.” When asked if people should be allowed to have the option of using private health facilities, with their own resources, if they cannot get timely access to the public health care system, 73 per cent of respondents responded affirmatively.

What does all this mean?

The Supreme Court ruling has cut through the left wing rhetoric of "private health care is bad". When faced with a rational and cool presentation of the potential merits of a parallel system, Canadians naturally react positively.

At least two-thirds of Canadians (between 63% and 73%) still believe that a parallel system can relieve the maladies plaguing the current health care system, and more than half are willing to pay out of pocket to make their lives healthier.

We should debate the merits of a parallel system with the understanding that nobody is suggesting that we shut down the public health care system. Stifling the debate is costing us.

Canadians want flexibility.


Michael Fox said...


Looks like somebody beat me to it.

I strongly believe that we need to make this a central plank of our platform. It's a winning issue. Conservatives win when we take a stand on an issue an stick by it. The best example of this is Mulroney and Free Trade.

Felix Taylor, Jr. said...

I wish Paul Martin was reading your article. NO ONE is suggesting to end public health care! As always, you cannot tell Mr. Martin ANYTHING!

Robert McClelland said...

The poll shows that Canadians want shorter waiting times, not flexibility.

Jim (Progressive Right) said...

Canadians want shorter waiting times, absolutely.

Is this a new problem, or an existing one?

It's not new, it's existing.

What it shows is that Canadians are unwilling to allow the current administration an attempt to fix it - we've waited years for "fixes" to waiting times.

Inability to deliver real change (as recent history has shown us) means Canadians want flexibility.

At the very least, they don't want the status quo.

Jim (Progressive Right) said...

But, let me go on record here.

I will not advocate a parallel system, especially if it does fail to deliver what we need to get us over these problems.

I just want a clear, objective debate, and it seems that this poll shows that that's palatable.

Anonymous said...

It is interesting to hear only 63% of Canadians would pay for health care. I think the US has worse ratio then that but we really need to improve the health care system.