Friday, March 2, 2012

The Politics of Canada's Health Care System

By Elaine Bernard
Executive Director
Harvard Trade Union Program

A widely used tactic in the current debate on health care reform in the U.S. has been to compare health care delivery in the U.S. with Canada's national health care system. For U.S. supporters of a national, universal, single payer health care system, the Canadian experience offers a working alternative which has been in operation for over 20 years.

While Americans are generally loathe to look at foreign institutions as models for domestic reform, the close geographic proximity of Canada and the similarities in values, institutions and outlook between the two countries makes Canada seem less foreign to Americans. Opponents of significant health care reform, are quick to warn of the evils of socialized medicine, even in Canada, arguing that the adoption of such a system will mean long waiting lists for surgery, increased government interference in the relationship between patients and doctors, tax increases, and general inferior medicine with less choice for patients.

With so much of the U.S. health care debate now pivoting on the "Canadian model," we think it is valuable to take a closer look at the origins of this system. In this article, we will look at the Canadian health care system with six questions in mind: why Canada? What exactly is the Canadian model? How was it achieved politically? What are some of the common myths about the Canadian model and what  is the current status of the system? Finally, what can Americans learn from the Canadian model?

Read more HERE. (pdf)

1 comment:

  1. In Canada, federal government set the guidelines that apply to the different provinces and territories of the country in health matters, but the system comes from public funding on a territorial or provincial basis.