Monday, February 20, 2006

Seeds of Private Health Care in Quebec

Last week, Quebec's Premier Charest proposed lifting a ban on private health insurance for several elective surgical procedures and announced the province would pay for the surgeries at private clinics when waiting times at public clinics and hospitals were unreasonable. The proposal was in response to a Supreme Court decision last summer that said long waits for surgical procedures at public facilities was unconstitutional. The Court then struck down the province's ban on private medical insurance and ordered it to initiate a reform program within a year. The Supreme Court's opinion applies only to Quebec, but it has already generated movement elsewhere. The premiers of British Columbia and Alberta have promised action. All of the provinces are reacting to long waiting lines for some services under Canada's public health insurance program.

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