Roy Romanow took down $15 million tax-payer dollars to create a report on the Canadian healthcare system. It boggles the mind at how anyone could possibly spend $15 million dollars over a period of just 18 months, to study something that is constantly being studied to death.
But then again; this is the same government which has run a $2 million dollar gun registration program up to $1 BILLION dollars, and tried to hide it. Like hiding an elephant in a telephone booth.
To me, there are two stories. The first deals with the obscene way governments spend money on studies; even more so than the results of the report. The second story deals with the findings of this $15 million dollar boondoggle. After 18 months, and after spending a veritable fortune by any normal person’s standards, Romanow has added NOTHING new to what we already know.
I HAVE THE SOLUTION! And it won’t cost the tax payers one penny. Here it is for FREE!
But first: Since moving to Ontario from Quebec, but living so close to Montreal, I decided to keep using the medical services I have used for my entire life. That meant continuing to benefit from the services of my Montreal doctors and Montreal hospital facilities. And since I have an Ontario OHIP card to wave around, it is quite remarkable how quickly Montreal hospitals and physicians are willing to see me.
As it turns out, OHIP pays substantially more than Quebec Medicare, and it doesn’t add to Quebec doctors’ earning ceilings. Therefore; having an OHIP card is like having the “Gold Card” of public medicine.
But not all Quebec doctors are registered with OHIP. And if they are not, the card is useless to them. If the Quebec doctor is not registered, the way it works is thus. You see your doctor, have what has to be done to you done, and then pay the doctor with cash, a check, or with any other monetary instrument he/she might accept; such as: direct debit or credit cards. Just like any other private business transaction.
The doctor fills out an OHIP form indicating which service, and or treatment he/she performed. The OHIP card holder than sends the form to OHIP, which in turn sends back a check for services rendered, covering what you paid. The whole reimbursement procedure takes a month or so.
It is IMPORTANT to note that the Quebec doctor, who is NOT registered with OHIP, charges at the rate Quebec Medicare pays, which is substantially less than OHIP. To Ontario, this is great. They pay less. To Quebec, this is also great, they don’t pay at all. To the doctor, he/she just made income that doesn’t touch their Quebec ceiling. And to someone like me, I’m thrilled. I get to visit the doctor of my choice, and get fully reimbursed for his/her services.
HOWEVER; when I first discovered that I had to actually pay cash to see my family doctor, who decided not to register with OHIP, I was reticent about paying money for a service that has been free to me for just about as long as I can remember. I also felt that paying for this service was somewhat demeaning. This is in itself a relatively perverted Canadian mind-set. You know – something for nothing.
But; I wanted to continue to see my own physician of some 20 years. So I bit the bullet, and decided to pay when I needed his service. I’m quite fortunate vis a vis health. I have suffered from cancer. I have type 2 diabetes. And I have a mild neurological problem on my left side. But otherwise, I am as healthy and robust as anyone. And the only time I usually need to see a doctor, is when I hurt myself, which isn’t that often, given the fact that I am very active. I’m always around horses. And I love constructing things.
Between Anne and myself, we probably don’t get to see our family doctor more than once every year or so. But the occasion does arise, as it did several months ago.
I called the doctor’s office to make an appointment, and asked the receptionist how much money I should bring with me, with which to pay the bill. But first; I wanted to know if they accepted checks, credit cards or a debit card. I was informed that cash or check would be fine. And then the receptionist asked what I needed done, which would determine the cost.
I told her that I had a small scab on my leg that wasn’t going away, and I just wanted the doctor to have a look at it. “That would be $15” she told me. $15 dollars. That was ridiculous I thought. I asked her what would it would cost if I wanted a full check-up? “That depended on what had to be done, and could cost as much as $48”. She said.
This got me thinking. I very often spend more than $15 on restaurant tips. And bringing my car in for an oil change costs me more than $48 dollars. And this I do every couple of months because of the high milage I drive.
So, here’s my solution for saving public healthcare. CHARGE up to $50 per visit. Without any rebate whatsoever from people earning above a minimal income. And it’s as easy to do, as programing a universal healthcare credit card, much like a regular credit card.
No one pays at the doctors’ office. The doctors will still be paid by the government. However; every visit to the doctor will be charged as REVENUE to the patient, just as if the user EARNED that amount of money. And at year’s end, the total would be added to INCOME.
It would also be a simple matter to set up a CAP based upon total income. In other words, at say $1,000 or so dollars, there would be no additional charges. Or the government could implement a sliding scale based upon total income. And it would be just as simple NOT to charge anything to our poorest citizens.
This system would achieve several very important objectives.
1) It would not penalize the poor. Nor does it deprive anyone of any services.
2) It would not stigmatize anyone at the doctors’ office, because no one would be asked to pay anything, other than at year’s end through income tax.
3) It would mostly slam the door shut to people who steal form our healthcare system. I am speaking of non Canadians or non landed immigrants who very often use the healthcare cards of others for free doctor visits.
4) It would discourage people who abuse the healthcare system simply because they want attention, or because of hypochondria.
5) Because of preceding numbers 3 and 4, it would reduce the demand on the system overall, leaving doctors with more time to do what they should be doing, with LESS stress.
6) It would put much more money into the pockets of our physicians, which would become a tremendous incentive for doctors to keep practicing within Canada. And as a draw for doctors from abroad who want to practice in a publicly funded environment.
7) It would free up an awful lot of money for hospital services, diagnostics and home-care. Maybe even for a public prescription drug program.
8) And finally. Instead of raising taxes to maintain a non functioning system. We could have a better system in place with less tax dollars.
For this concept to really work, the governments; ALL THE GOVERNMENTS, would have to get out of the management of healthcare, and turn it over to FOR-PROFIT healthcare providers, whose ONLY revenue for PUBLIC healthcare would come from the governments.
In other words, the governments would still be paying for PUBLIC non elective procedures, run by private concerns who would have to administrate themselves efficiently; like any business.
In effect, we already have a FOR-PROFIT system in place that works incredibly well. Every time we visit our family doctors, who are working out of their own clinics, we are dealing with a form of FOR-PROFIT privatized healthcare.
With a system such as this; no one will be denied access to healthcare. No one will have to pay more in taxes for diminishing services. And the healthcare industry will grow entirely on its own, without the humongous layers upon layers of useless and costly government bureaucracy.
A few years ago, I sat on the board of directors at the West Island Lakeshore General Hospital (Montreal) for a grand total of two meetings. I quit at the second meeting, and lied to the public about the reason for my leaving. I didn’t want to hurt or embarrass anyone who was on the board of directors, who were in their own minds making a contribution. However; the truth be told, for what the board of directors did, there was a s much reason for there to be a Board of Directors at the Lakeshore General Hospital, as there would be for a refrigerator sales person in the arctic.
The system STINKS. The government is an impediment, and the Board of Directors in this case were healthcare pacifists, who sat at meetings shaking their heads like good little mandarins, doing whatever they could, NOT to make waves. In a private system, only the competent and innovative would survive. And bureaucracy would not be able to exist. There might not even be Boards of Directors, unless the healthcare provider was a public company.
By simply throwing more money into an already diseased system, as the Romanow report suggests we do; all we will be guaranteeing will be the eventual implosion of public universal healthcare. Leaving only financially comfortable people, who will be able to receive treatment and services by heading south, or by dealing in what could conceivably become black market healthcare.
Instead of trying to fix a terminally ill problem. It is time to salvage the best of what is. Create what should be. And scrap the rest. It can be done. And the government should not have to spend $15 million dollars to figure out how.