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

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Klein's "Third Way" Fallacy 

This letter appeared in the Edmonton Journal November 28th. The author is Noel Somerville who is Co-Vice-Chair of the Seniors Action Liason Team.

Thank you for printing Paul Krugman’s article, “U.S. health insurance system fails nation,” (Journal, November 17).

It beautifully illustrates the fallacy of Premier Klein’s assertion that there is a viable “third way”, a two-tier system that combines public and private insurance for health care.

As Krugman points out, private insurers are not interested in providing universal comprehensive health care coverage. Their business is making money, which they do by providing limited and often partial coverage to selected individuals for specified risks.

In order to make profit, they have to avoid risk. Accordingly they decline those with pre-existing conditions or indicators of high future expense. The aged, the infirm, and those with any life-style or genetic pre-disposition to injury or disease need not apply.

Even the private, employer-sponsored group health care plans survive only by virtue of the massive tax subsidy provided by the tax-free status of premiums. Under this system, the 50% of Albertans who don’t have access to employer-sponsored group plans (farmers, small independent businesses, seniors and the poor) will be taxed to support those who do.

Despite the Premier’s claims, the “third way” will not reduce health care costs; it will increase them because of the loss of economies of scale in our single-payer system. It won’t reduce wait lists except for the wealthy healthy. It won’t increase choice because it will be the insurance provider that decides what procedure they are prepared to cover, and where.

Finally, the “third way” will be a major blow to Canada’s resource and manufacturing sectors. They will lose the competitive edge over their American counterparts resulting from the much lower costs of our publicly insured medical system.

Noel Somerville

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