Thursday, April 28, 2011

Harper Thinks Medical user fees are a great idea and wants some medical services delisted

Canadian Press. "Harper also said co-payments by patients, user fees and delisting of some Medical services would help repair the Health System"

Research conclusively shows that user fees drive costs up not down. People do go to the doctor less often, but that is the problem. Many small treatable aliments go undiagnosed until they become more serious and much more costly to treat and people with chronic diseases visit the doctor far less than is good for themselves or the health care system.

Of course, there is one thing Canada can do to greatly reduce health care costs and both the NDP and Liberals are least partially receptive to idea, but which Stephen Harper has never had any time for and that is a national pharmacare program.

"For the past 20 years, prescription medications have been the fastest-growing segment of health-care spending: according to the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), from 1985 to 2007, the share of drugs in the total health expenditure increased from 9.5% to 16.5%; last year the drug bill totalled a whopping $30 billion."

But rather than seek ways to keep costs down, the evidence suggests that government has for years continuously and consciously overpaid. Part of the problem, it seems, is that drug coverage is fragmented — government picks up about 45% of the tab while private insurers and individuals pay the rest — which has acted as a disincentive. Instead of bargaining with pharmaceutical companies for lower prices, says Marc-André Gagnon, an assistant professor at Carleton University's School of Public Policy and Administration, "the whole pricing system is based on the idea that we need to artificially inflate costs to create a more business-friendly environment." (In exchange for higher prices, drug companies pledged to invest at least 10% of Canadians sales on research and development.) But as he argues in a recent paper, this practice has raised prices without prompting significant spinoff investment: Canada now pays up to 40% more for drugs than other industrialized countries. (He estimates that adopting a national pharmacare program would save an estimated $10.7 billion annually."

You would think that a man who spent 3 years heading up an organization dedicated to the destruction of public health care and two more years as VP would know more about health care economics, but I guess we should not expect too much of him given his views about higher education.
Stephen Harper "I think we're vastly over-invested in universities. Universities should be relatively small"

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