The Canadian Supreme Court ruled that private health care is legal when the government doesn’t provide timely service, reports the Wall Street Journal in Shock Treatment for Canadian Health Care. As I’ve written before, (see Report from Montreal), private care has been slowly entering Quebec for non-insured services such as certain MRI procedures.
For political and technical reasons, the ruling is likely to apply only to Quebec for now. It’s unclear whether a market will develop for private insurance; in any case if the UK is a guide, the private market will mainly focus on improving the convenience for non-urgent care, according to a McGill economists quoted in the Journal. Urgent and expensive care will still go through the public system.
The biggest impact may be in pressuring the government system into increasing service levels, thus removing the rationale for private services.June 13, 2005