The Globe and Mail published this article (Private insurance attacked) on Tuesday. Since last September, Acure Health Inc., and Alberta health insurance company has been selling policies in British Columbia that allows patients to book into private clinics if they have waited longer than 45 days for medical treatment for "serious illnesses. While I'm all for looking for new models of health care delivery, creating an environment where individuals can pay for faster access is not one of them. It punishes those who can least afford health care and draws already scarce resources from the public system.
According to the Globe article, B.C. Health Minister George Abbott has been aware of the Acure insurance plan for a "number of months" but hasn't acted yet. I'm not convinced that they will. I wrote to Lorne Mayencourt my MLA on this issue early this year and his response indicates that the Liberal government here is in fact embracing the private health care model. He states in his message that given rising health care costs the BC Government must " address all feasible opportunities to minimize the strain on the BC taxpayer and modernize our health care framework in order to benefit from all available cost offsets." He goes on to state that he believes "that we must move forward with a realistic approach to servicing all BC patients, and take into consideration the long term benefits of a thoughtful and proactive public/private medical partnership."
If Mr. Mayencourt's position is in keeping with the Campbell governments (and why wouldn't it be?) then it would seem that the Liberal government here is moving aggressively to enabling a more American style health care system. This would be a tragedy. Private health care models have yet to prove to be a workable model. It hasn't worked in the United States or in Britain. While our public system needs significant improvement it remains the best option for Canada. If you live in BC I encourage you to write to your MLA and call for action on this issue.