Nation, it's no secret that our current healthcare system in this province is seriously over-taxed. We have too many people, making too many visits, to too few doctors and too few facilities. Once they get there, they have too few beds and too many patients to deal with. Wait times are improving, but still an issue of major concern. Throwing more money at the system doesn't seem to be helping, and isn't fiscally sustainable even if it WAS helping.
One proposed solution that keeps coming up is to allow private, for-profit delivery. In essence, allow "Enlightened Savage Health Services" to open its doors and perform neuro-surgical procedures, as an example (I'd recommend against it, as I had to check the spelling of "neuro"). Alberta Health would then cut a cheque to the clinic, rather than to itself.
The benefits, we're told, are that it would provide more options for care. More beds. More surgical bays. More facilities, closer to more Albertans. The risks, critics claim, is that it will take the most qualified doctors and nurses out of the clinics and hospitals we have, and put them in the for-profit clinics where they can afford to pay more, or offer better perks. Also, we're reminded, it doesn't address the issue of a lack of trained health personnel - we'll just be spreading a limited number of doctors and nurses even further.
I think we're foolish if we don't at least explore this option. If we have more facilities offering care, then the demand for trained health professionals will rise. When demand rises, the supply will increase to meet it (in theory). More students will pursue nursing or medicine, because they'll know there will be jobs. If they're exceptionally good, there will also be opportunities in the "for profit" health system.
There IS, of course, the "slippery slope" argument to be made: That once we allow this to take root, before too long we'll have a second tier of health care, available only to the super-rich.Would these "for-profit" clinics allow for queue jumping? I suppose it's possible - it would depend on the legislation and the regulations. Even if it DID, though, consider: If I'm #3 on the list for a hip replacement, and Brett Wilson (who is #2) pays an extra $50,000 to get his done right now at the "Golden Hips OsteoSurgical Spa" in Nanton, then I - the poor plebe that I am - move to #2 on the list. And I'm getting mine sooner. Provided there are doctors to do it, and they aren't all working on Brett's hip because Golden Hips pays better than the Rockyview General Hospital.
I'd point out that we already HAVE a second tier of health care, hidden in plain sight. We see the results of that second tier every Saturday night. When Jarome Iginla loses an edge and twists his knee on Monday, he's getting an MRI on Tuesday, and (if necessary) surgery by Friday. If the same thing happened to you or me on Monday, I'd get an MRI by Labour Day, and surgery by this time next year (maybe).
I don't know if private, for-profit delivery can work for health services. I know that's how we get dental, vision and chiropractic care in this province - some dental clinics are better than others, and the rates we pay vary from chiropractor to chiropractor. If we're told that it can't work, then fine - it can't. This isn't something I want to explore due to ideological dogma. I'm not interested in this idea at ALL if it means anyone, anywhere, is waiting LONGER tomorrow than they are today. Or receiving worse care tomorrow than they are today.
But we owe it to our parents - and to ourselves, and our kids - to at least TALK about it. Because nobody gets hurt by TALKING about it, right?
That's MY take... what's yours?