In backing away from all aspects of their "third way" health care reforms, the Alberta government made a huge mistake. The Alberta government once again has withdrawn proposals (which were really just bullet points, but that is neither here nor there) that might add some more competition in the health care mix.
Behind a subscriber wall at the CalgaryHerald, Mark Milke points out a couple things.
If carpenters on Calgary's new Children's Hospital site were told by politicians to forget about future government work if they ever hammered a nail on a private project, the politicians would rightly be pilloried.
But apply such logic to doctors who will soon labour in that hospital and too many politicians think it fine to restrict the labour, mobility, wages and skill development of physicians.
One of the abandoned proposals would have allowed doctors to work in the public system as well as the mythological private system. The arguments against this proposal, says Mark, are two-fold. First there's the "double dipping" critique, and then there's the argument that it will draw doctors away from the public system.
The morality and logic of such assertions is faulty. On the double-dipping charge, how does it differ from consultant Rod Love, who received taxpayer cash (via the Tory government) and cheques from the private sector? Plenty of lawyers bill government and private clients for similar work. The freedom allowed to consultants, lawyers and others is denied to doctors.
Let's whip out some numbers, shall we?
European countries and Australia (all of which also have universal access to health care) allow private insurance and much more doctor mobility between government and private systems. As a result, they have many more doctors per 1,000 people compared to Canada. According to the OECD, Canada has 2.1 physicians for every 1,000 people.
Countries with higher doctor-population ratios include: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, the Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.