Ralph Klein has gone and it is time to retire Ralph's World. Thanks to all of you who have supported this venture by contributing material and through your comments. It has been fun.

Should we get another blog underway? Let me know your thoughts by e-mailing me at johnnyslow@gmail.com.

John Slow
January 1, 2007

Sunday, March 28, 2004

The Only Real Issue in Healthcare is Who Pays  

Alberta Treasurer Pat Nelson in her budget speech last Wednesday indicated that spending on healthcare in the province has doubled in the last ten years and that this increase is not sustainable. While true, she misleads. Click here for details of the deception. First, ten years ago was right after the Klein Revolution cuts. If I were to cut my 13 year old’s allowance from $20/week to $10/week one month and then announce at my next month’s family budget address that I was doubling his allowance he would be unimpressed. He’s back to square one; he was short $10 last month; and his old man is asking him to be grateful. Second, Ms. Nelson does not factor in the fact that our population has grown substantially in that time. While that’s added cost, the government takes in healthcare premiums and income taxes from these folks to cover that. Finally, we are a wealthy province due to our resource royalties which amount to one third of our government’s budget, a luxury no other province comes close to enjoying. Perhaps we can afford to spend a bit more per person.

It is time to get to the real debate about health care costs. Who pays? The citizens pay of course through their taxes, through premiums, through private health insurance plans, and out of their own pockets. The Tories believe that healthcare premiums and/or private health insurance is the way to go. This would reduce what government has to pay and allow them to reduce taxes. Tax savings, as always, flow disproportionately to those better off. They will happily take their tax savings, subtract their government premiums, private plan premiums and the occasional uncovered procedure costs and still have money left over for a southern vacation when it gets nippy in the winter. The rest of us will sacrifice something else to find the money or go without coverage.

The alternative is to fund healthcare through the tax system. Those better off pay more for the same health care coverage than someone of lesser means. The Tories would have us believe that this is contrary to Albertan's sense of fair play and our independent, pioneer spirit. Others suggest that Albertan's have a strong sense of helping those less fortunate and would not begrudge if taxes rose for everyone to provide a top-notch health care system.

All political parties agree that the health care system should be the most efficient it can be. The debate is only about how to finance it. The Tories are testing the waters with their talk of unsustainable costs and user fees. It’s time to bring this debate out into the open and tackle the real issue.

Who pays?

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