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In the Canadian healthcare system, the federal government has a big role to play as far as service delivery is concerned. The federal government is charged with the responsibility of ensuring that quality services are offered to the populace. For instance, it controls policy formulation and implementation.
In 2006, Doctors for Medicare organization was launched to ensure that resources are distributed equally. This was meant to ensure that there is equitable access to health care. The federal government supports the organization. The federal government together with Doctors for Medicare organization is firmly committed to healthcare policy that is based on substantiation and efficient service.
The main aim of the government is to ensure that healthcare system is improved in the country. The federal government’s involvement in the healthcare is based on the idea that the sector would encounter reforms in case it is tackled from the public system perspective. In this regard, all patients would have access to healthcare, as opposed to leaving the sector to private investors who would want to satisfy their selfish interests1.
The federal government has a vision that is beneficial to all stakeholders in the sector. For instance, it has a vision of ensuring that patients access high quality, sustainable and equitable services in the healthcare sector2. The However, the involvement of the federal government in healthcare sector has raised a number of concerns. Many people are opposed to the idea because it affects free flow of capital.
Liberalists would argue that the government should not be involved in the economy because it interferes with individual fulfillment. The government should simply provide mechanisms through which individuals would achieve their potentials. This article analyzes some of the disadvantages of government involvement in the healthcare sector. The argument of the paper is based on classical liberalism.
Arguments against Federal Involvement in the Healthcare
In 2004, the healthcare agreements signed by the federal government with various stakeholders were perceived as a landmark in the social development of Canada. However, the accords have achieved little as far as the welfare of Canadians is concerned. In other words, the government has achieved little because the healthcare system still favors the rich and the well to do in society.
Even though some supporters of the accord argue that the wait times have reduced, there has been no progress as far as pharmaceutical strategy of reducing costs is concerned. Moreover, the new system is susceptible to fraud and misappropriation of public resources. In other words, there is a weak accountability mechanism.
For instance, the accord encourages the government to transfer huge sums of money to various private hospitals in various provinces without strategies to ensure that funds are spent appropriately. The achievements of the 2004 accord have been negative because public officials squander resources since there are no credible mechanisms for ensuring that public funds are spent in accordance with the laid rules and regulations.
For instance, the federal government has achieved very little in the healthcare system3. Since 2004, the federal government has committed itself to new signing new accords to ensure that Canada’s healthcare system succeeds in achieving its objectives. However, these efforts have not bore fruits.
A number of factors have hindered the performance of the federal government in the healthcare sector. These factors are responsible for poor service delivery in the country. People are against the federal government’s involvement in healthcare because of poor policies crafted by federal government officials.
Instead of negotiating with all stakeholders in the healthcare sector, the federal government undertook and initiative to negotiate with a few shareholders while leaving out important stakeholders. For instance, only a few regions were involved in the deal. The federal government went ahead to negotiate with certain local authorities instead of involving all regions in the deal. According to classical liberalists, this is harmful to the economy because few people would have been given due advantage.
The government represents the interests of the majority in society. In this regard, it should allow each person to participate fully in policy formulation. Allowing some groups to negotiate in a national deal and neglecting others amounts to violation of human rights and freedom. Liberalists would argue that the government should keep off from economic activities because the market operates according to its internal logics.
One of the logics is that the producer will always make available goods and services that the consumer will be willing to consume. In this case, the federal government should not influence the process by negotiating with some regions and neglecting others. Consumers would receive quality services in case the federal government leaves the market to operate according to its logics. The selected service providers would offer poor services.
Additionally, the federal government is accused of coming up with defective policies that are aimed at achieving short-term goals instead of solving the problems affecting patients forever. The federal government negotiated a short-term accord that would only solve immediate problems.
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Short-term policies are expensive and inefficient because they are not sustainable. Sustainability is an important factor to consider when designing any policy. There is a high possibility that short-term policies would only benefit few individuals and groups. However, a long-term accord would have allowed provinces and local authorities to plan and execute policies effectively. The deal negotiated by the federal government could not allow equitable distribution of resources in the healthcare sector.
The Canadian Health Act suggests that each person should access healthcare services at a reduced price. However, the policies designed by the federal government could not guarantee steady supply of healthcare services. In other words, the accord could not guarantee quality.
Moreover, the aspect of accessibility and equity could not be achieved through the new federal government’s policies. In the Canadian healthcare system, only policies that support reforms could succeed. The new policies are not different from the previous policies because the poor cannot access important services.
At its inception, the 2004 federal government’s accord was in line with the Canadian Health Act. However, things changed with time because evidence for performance was missing. Questions are being raised over the federal government’s commitment to accountability. In fact, others view the government’s actions as promoting privatization in a negative way.
Classical liberalists observe that privatization should be encouraged but the federal government favors some individuals in its secret privatization program. In this regard, analysts observe that the government should follow the Canadian Health Act when formulating public policy on healthcare.
This would guarantee equity, accessibility, and quality healthcare. The current system employed by the federal government has a number of negative effects to the healthcare sector.
For instance, it is accused of extra billing whereby insecure services are linked to secure services. In a study conducted by a private organization, it was revealed that patients attending private clinics were being charged exorbitant fees for colonoscopy services.
This shows that private clinics are benefiting from federal government’s policies at an expense of citizens. Moreover, patients complain that they are charged excessive block fees for primary healthcare. This affects women and children because they are forced to dig deeper into their pockets to access primary healthcare services.
The Canadian Health Act provides that women should access free primary healthcare services at a relatively lower price. In one of the instances, the court charged a private doctor for charging patients over $ 1500 for simple services such as offering breast-feeding advice. This shows that some individuals are benefiting from the deal yet patients are suffering4.
The idea that patients should access services using a third party billing system is harmful to citizens. This is because patients are directed to specific clinics that might not be under their reach. Recently, injured workers in Ottawa were instructed to seek medical services in Quebec.
This shows that attending to emergencies would be problematic given the fact that workers might not have the means of accessing quality services in the nearby clinics. The example provided shows that the 2004 federal government accord violates the federal law on healthcare.
Few clinics are given the powers to charge patients exorbitant prices, which is against the provisions of the Canadian Health Act. In other words, it means medical services are accessed based on the individual’s financial capability, not the need. The healthcare sector in Canada is currently controlled by a small group of doctors who offer services based on status.
Classical liberalists observe that privatization of the healthcare sector would replace the current system being advocated by the federal government. Through research, scholars prove that the current policy adopted by the federal government does not ensure equal access to healthcare services among citizens. In fact, the policies impede healthcare service delivery. The views of Canadians are very different from the views adopted by the federal government5. In elections, Canadians suggest that they prefer a single-tier healthcare system as opposed to the one suggested by the federal government.
The federal government formulated healthcare policies in 2004 without taking into consideration the fact that new forms of privatization programs exist. The one it selected is defective and indifferent to the needs of the majority. The policies contained in the 2004 accord have several effects to the healthcare system in Canada.
Opponents of the accord note that the federal government must consider revising the accord or do away with it all together. The policies have tremendous effects on access and wait times in clinics and hospitals. The policies encourage doctors to work in the private healthcare sector, which results to serious shortages in public clinics and hospitals.
Patients would have to wait for long before they are served in public hospitals. Service providers tend to serve insured patients faster as compared to unsecured patients. Furthermore, the new policies affect patient matrix in public hospitals because sickest patients are not served first. Service providers know that attending to sickest patients is very expensive and time consuming. Such patients are often referred to public hospitals.
Caulfield, Timothy, and Tigerstrom, Barbara. Health care reform & the law in Canada: meeting the challenge. Alberta: University of Alberta Press, 2002.
Charlton, Mark, and Barker, Paul. Crosscurrents: contemporary political issues. Scarborough, ON: Thomson Nelson, 2006.
Deutsch, John. Study of Economic Policy Health Services Restructuring in Canada Conference. Quebec: Queen’s University, 2006.
Mullner, Ross. Encyclopedia of health services research. Quebec: Sage, 2009.
Raphael, Dennis. Poverty and Policy in Canada: Implications for Health and Quality of Life. Toronto: Canadian Scholars’ Press, 2007.
1Caulfield Timothy and Tigerstrom Barbara (Health care reform & the law in Canada: meeting the challenge. Alberta: University of Alberta Press, 2002), p. 67.
2 Charlton Mark and Barker Paul (Crosscurrents: contemporary political issues. Scarborough, ON: Thomson Nelson, 2006), p. 18.
3Deutsch John (Study of Economic Policy Health Services Restructuring in Canada Conference. Quebec: Queen’s University, 2006), p. 23.
4 Raphael Dennis (Poverty and Policy in Canada: Implications for Health and Quality of Life. Toronto: Canadian Scholars’ Press, 2007), p. 45.
5 Mullner Ross (Encyclopedia of health services research. Quebec: Sage, 2009), p. 78.