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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

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Freddie's Diary - Article 15 - Part II 

PART 11
COMPARED TO THE REST OF THE WORLD, OUR HEALTH SYSTEM RATES WELL.
April, 2004, Sheila Pratt, EJ

Before Gary Mar begins his round the world search for ways to cut health-care costs, here's some darn good reading for his bedside table. A new study by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development reviews a decade of health-care reform in 30 of the world's industrialized countries. Mar will find a long list of reforms tried in European countries, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand.

What Mar won't find in the OECD study is a lot of support for the views of his boss, Ralph Klein, who says the Canadian health-care system is in a fiscal crisis and headed for collapse. In fact, Canada's publicly financed Medicare system gets good reviews on most fronts when compared with two tier systems or those combining private and public insurance. Publicly financed, single-payer systems like Canada's "probably make containing overall spending easier," concludes the study, Health Care Systems: Lessons from the Reform Experience.

By contrast, countries with numerous private insurers or a mix of public and private systems "have had more difficulty in attaining and sustaining slowdowns in expenditure." The private insurance model has a high degree of patient choice "but cost control has been weak," says the report. In other words, if cost control is the goal of reform, we've got the best system. So far, Klein has said he wants "a mix of public and private" health care and that means changing the Canada Health Act.

Like the Romanow and Mazankowski reports, the OECD study questions the efficacy of user fees to raise revenue or curb demand. The fees have to be so high to achieve those goals that most countries then have to put caps or create exemptions for the poor or sick--who use the system most.

Another way of measuring efficiency of health spending is the amount of GDP spent on health care. According to the OECD study, Canada is about the middle of the pack. In 2001, health-care spending was 9.7% of the GDP in this country--modestly higher than 1990 when it was 9.0 % of GDP. Take a closer look at the GDP benchmark. Alberta spent 7.9 % of its GDP on health-care in 2003, according to figures for the Canadian Institute for Health information. That's the same %age of GDP this province spent on healthcare in 1989. No crisis back then. (In the previous article Evans said forecasts of the health budget which now consumes30% of government spending will make up 46% of the total budget by the year 2005. Iris Evans was exaggerating somewhat, don't you think?).

Let's not get stampeded into an illusory crisis. Unfortunately, the premier finds it easier to govern by blowing storm clouds over skittish voters rather than inviting them to a rational, vigorous public debate on clear choices.

We need to keep moving on health reform but there's no need to fear our well loved medicate system is collapsing or needs to be dismantled.

We need to remind ourselves of the new word "unsustainable" that Klein learned sometime during his last 10 years of cut and slash. His stock answer to anything that goes against his ideology is that that particular item is unsustainable. Remember this when you are making your choice at the poles in 2005. We cannot abide, sustain or maintain Ralph Klein, his upkeep is far too expensive for us taxpayers.

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