In today's National Post....
It seemed, for a while at least, that the Alberta government was prepared to recognize there was a better way -- one that would take its lessons from the health care programs found in Australia, Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Japan, Luxembourg, Sweden and Switzerland. The programs in those nations deliver superior health outcomes to Canada's, or deliver access to medicare without waiting lists, or both. And while each is unique, all have some very important fundamental policies in common.
Most importantly, all of them revolve around competition and financial incentives. Each of those countries requires patients to be responsible for at least some of the cost of their care, allow care to be delivered competitively by private hospitals and allow patients the opportunity to seek care on their own terms if the public program is unwilling or unable to meet their needs. As a result, these programs make better use of their resources and deliver services in a more patient-focused and patient-oriented setting.
It is these policies, and the fundamental concepts of competition and financial incentives, that should have been at the core of Tuesday's announcement. Klein and Health Minister Iris Evans should have been talking about implementing a cost-sharing arrangement, introducing competitive private provision of publicly funded services and withdrawing all rules and regulations restricting Albertans' freedom to seek all health services (even medically necessary ones) on their own terms. Instead, the government turned away from the promising vision hinted at in Klein's previous discussions of the Third Way, and all the benefits that would have accrued to Albertans as a result.