The OECD praises Canada’s Medicare system for its cost controls and its focus on equity. The report concludes that the high priority given to equity gives Canada’s universal public health care system “a critical advantage” over the health care systems of other countries. Accordingly, the report notes that Canadians attach a great importance to the Medicare system “as a foundation for shared pan-Canadian values of a just society.”
The OECD does suggest that “modest” health care user-fees might help control some costs, but acknowledges that introducing user-fees could reduce accessibility, especially for those people who need the system the most, namely the very poor and the very sick, and that exemptions intended to address restrictions to accessibility risk creating “poverty traps” that could further endanger the financial well-being of lower income Canadians.
The report considers increased private sector participation “at the margins” of health care, but does not recommend it. Significantly, the OECD recommends creating a national prescription drug plan and a long-term care plan under Medicare to improve access to quality health care.
Far from abrogating Medicare, the report recommends a dramatic expansion of public health care services to improve access and to control the fastest rising costs, which are largely outside the public Medicare system.
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For more information, please contact Sean Meagher, Executive Director of Canadian Doctors for Medicare, at (416) 820-7889.