Friday, June 10, 2005

Canada Care Hazardous to Life...

That is now the official legal status of Canada's health care system, according to the country's Supreme Court:

TORONTO — Canada's Supreme Court dealt a powerful blow to the state monopoly on health care yesterday, striking down a Quebec ban on private health insurance for services provided under the country's Medicare system of universal coverage.

....The Supreme Court said Quebec's prohibition violated the province's charter of rights by threatening the lives of patients. The justices noted other countries have successfully combined private and public care.

.... in recent years Canada's Medicare has been troubled by long waiting lists and a lack of doctors, nurses and state-of-the-art equipment. Some patients wait months for surgery, MRI machines are scarce and many Canadians travel to the United States for treatment.

Under the Canadian system, it is illegal to seek faster treatment and jump to the head of the line by paying out of pocket for public care. Private health clinics have sprouted up for Canadians willing to spend their own money for treatment. But they are technically illegal, though some provincial governments tend to look the other way, especially for more minor treatments.

....The justices took a year to rule on a case that began in 1997, when George Zeliotis, a Montreal man, tried to pay for hip-replacement surgery rather than wait nearly a year for treatment at a public hospital.

Zeliotis told the high court he suffered pain and became addicted to painkillers during the yearlong wait for hip-replacement surgery.

He contended he should have been allowed to pay for faster service at a private clinic.

His doctor, Jacques Chaoulli, argued his patient's rights were violated because Quebec couldn't provide the care he needed but didn't offer him the option of getting it privately.

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