Canada’s healthcare system is guided by the Canada heath act of 1984. The health services are offered to all permanent residents of Canada regardless of their income level. The healthcare policy is fully applicable within Canada but one can be reimbursed a proportion of the cost incurred for medical care outside Canada. Each province within Canada is allowed to manage its healthcare policy thereby providing its residents with all the vital medical care.
Optometric services, dental services, medical prescription while at home, physiotherapy, hearing aids, and home care are not generally covered and vary from province to province. The system is funded by both the federal government and provincial government from individual and collective taxes. Some provinces charge their residents a certain percentage of their annual income.
The Canadian healthcare system is being faced with many challenges. A considerable number of trained and practicing medical personnel have over the years left Canada to work elsewhere, probably due to higher pay and better working conditions (Steinbrook, 2006). This has in turn brought staffing problems in the provision of healthcare. The few who are left are overburdened. This has resulted in to decline in the quality of service provided.
The Canadian healthcare system has been heavily criticized for its high patient waiting time. Waiting time to see a specialist, have corrective surgery and for diagnosis has been tremendously increasing in the years. The long waiting times have been a source of more pain to the patients causing them more psychological torture. The long waiting hours also increase patients’ complications to irreparable damage of body organs, increases their risk to death and even some have died while on the waiting list. The high number of patients waiting even in the emergency room is also a good indicator of this situation (Johnson and Stoskopf, 2009).
Canada’s healthcare policy prohibits coverage of major health services by private insurance allowing only those not publicly insured. This has limited access to private medical services. The ban locks out the middle class and the poor since they have no cash to pay for private medical care. The poor are left with no choice other than endure to long waiting hours and psychological torment (Steinbrook, 2006).
Because each province is allowed to manage its health care, there has been variation in the quality of health services among them. The quality of healthcare in Northern Canada and the rural areas is far much lower compared to the South. This problem could be attributed to a lack of uniformity in funding and different application of the healthcare system. In some provinces like Newfoundland, patients are reimbursed amounts equivalent to the covered plan if they use private health services. They are also allowed to take insurance cover for any excess amount not covered. Provinces like Nova Scotia allow private health services to be coved by private insurance. Such kinds of differences have made the Canadian healthcare system complex (Steinbrook, 2006).
The policymakers in Canada have been concerned about protecting the poor who cannot afford to pay for private health services. This has been addressed through collaborative funding by the federal and provincial governments. The policymakers have also been concerned about the patient’s waiting time. A waiting time fund was raised by the federal government to assist the provincial government in hiring more medical personnel, increasing medical facilities, and eliminating appointments backlog (Johnson and Stoskopf, 2009).
Finally, the judicially has also challenged the Canadian healthcare act in a case filed in 1997 by George Zaliotis from Quebec province (Johnson and Stoskopf, 2009). The ruling challenged the policymakers that something needed to be done. Since there has been a considerable variation in policies regarding private healthcare, a joint policy can be implemented to improve Canada’s healthcare system by use of mixed public and private systems.
Johnson, J. A & Stoskopf, C. (2009). Comparative Health Systems: Global Perspectives. Sudbury: Jones & Bartlett Publishers.
Steinbrook, Robert (2006). Private Health Care in Canada. The new England Journal of Medicine, Volume 354, 1661-1664.