Innovation and the Future of Health Care Policy Term Paper

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Innovation and the Future of Health Care

Contrary to popular belief the Canadian Health Care System is not a universal public health care system. The Canadian system is made up of a collaborative provision and finance system. Part of the cost of health care is paid for by the Provincial government and part by the federal government but most delivery of services is offered by private organizations and/or individuals. Most hospitals are privately owned and most doctors work on a fee for service basis. The only universality is that the government provides insurance for all citizens that pay for most basic health care needs, or all those that are deemed medically necessary by a physician. In addition to this many Canadians carry private supplemental insurance that covers care that is deemed unnecessary by the public payee. ("Health Care System in Canada" 2007, NP)

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In short the system is not unlike the Medicare system in the U.S., though this provision is only offered to those who are aged, while the Canadian System is offered to all citizens, or the Medicaid system where coverage for medically necessary services is offered only to those who are economically disadvantaged and/or disabled. The system's total funding is broken up roughly by a 70/30 split where 30% of care is funded publicly and 70% is funded privately, and the reasoning for this split is that as health care technology and o opportunity expands more services are available and demanded than are covered by the provincial health insurance. (Canadian Institute for Health Information "Explaining the 70/30 Split" 2005, pp. vii, 3)

Term Paper on Innovation and the Future of Health Care Policy Assignment

The basis of the Canadian system is an early commitment to the idea that basic health care is a right, rather than a privilege associated with high cost provision. (Canadian Institute for Health Information "Explaining the 70/30 Split" 2005, pp. 2-3) Though the U.S. framers may have seen the need for such a commitment to the public good, as it is seen in Canada the emphasis on privatization of all services has been the historical force of the development of the U.S. health care system, which many wholeheartedly agree is in dire circumstances.

Cutler, 2004, p. ix)

Statement of Problem:

There is no contention here or elsewhere that the Canadian model of health care delivery is perfect, without controversy or concerns or the best possible model of health care delivery, but it is clearly a better alternative than the current state of health care in the U.S. One way that this can be seen is by looking at a study that confronts the issue of how often people go without needed health care in several nations, for inability to pay for it. The pros of adopting the Canadian system are simple, if the system was adopted many people would not live in fear of illness or injury as the casket around their financial well being, additionally the system is a collaborative private/public system that could easily be absorbed by the system as it is in the U.S. today and lastly health care expenditures could be reduced if there was a substantive manner in which to prioritize and cost breakdown care.

It is easy to see from this poll data there is a serious problem when the richest nation in the world is the nation with the highest percentage of adults who on a yearly basis have to avoid needed medical care because they are unable to pay for it. These statistics

Graph Source * Canadian Institute for Health Information "Explaining the 70/30 Split" 2005, p. 6) are also not inclusive of the millions of children in the U.S. who are uninsured or underinsured do to the fact that their parents have no coverage for them, have an income that is to high to meet poverty guidelines for Medicaid and to low to pay growing private health care premiums. The problem is growing and the symptoms are becoming pervasive as more and more people are unable to gain access to health care that could prevent even more expensive treatment in the future, such as life saving heart surgery or cancer treatment for metastasized cancer as apposed to localized and/or encapsulated tumors. This cost increase in association with the advancement of technology in medical care and rising overall health care costs has created a system in the U.S. that has grown unchecked by socioeconomics and it has resulted in many people simply not receiving even the most basic health care.

Soaring costs now account for 16% of the U.S. annual gross domestic product (GDP) and are slated to climb to 20% by 2015. This is deemed "unsustainable" without severely effecting our national economy. Equally serious are the millions of Americans with limited access to our health-care system due to lack of medical insurance. Unique among Western industrialized societies, we do not provide coverage for all our citizens through either private or public insurance. This national disgrace has aroused relatively little concern from an administration that has seen the world's only "superpower" increase its medically uninsured from 41 million to 46 million (rising 100,000 monthly) since Mr. Bush took office....health-care quality remains high, thanks to brilliant advances of medical science and technology that have far outpaced medical socioeconomics. ("Health-Care Reform: Be Patient," 2006, p. B04)

The combined issue has created what many experts and laypeople, alike term a "health care crisis" that is to some degree a stark embarrassment to the U.S. And a fundamentally flawed way to provide for our citizens ability to pursue happiness, as without health happiness is superfluous.

Reasons for Resistance or the Cons of Adopting a Canadian Like system:

The political and social resistance to some sort of publicly provided health care coverage has been politically lambasted due to varied interests and standings on the public provision of many services. The conservative trend that has ensued since the end of Clinton's term as president is not the first time such a situation has been debated and set aside. Several of the arguments that drive the resistance to public health coverage (or the cons of adoption) are questions about quality of care, the need for necessary prioritization of care and lastly the concern of many that the tax burden that would be created by public health care would be unfairly divested, or in other words those who "have" are uncomfortable with the idea of supplementing those who "have not." These same arguments have been leveled against the current government subsidized health programs, Medicare and Medicaid for as long as they have been in existence as well as against social security and pretty much all forms of welfare payment and programs. The arguments will likely never change in a substantive manner, but what is changing is the fact that more and more people every year completely go without essential services simply because they cannot pay for them.

The importance of health is uncontroversial. But resources are limited, and so we need a way to prioritize. Suppose that doctors invent a wonderful new surgery that will save the lives of some heart attack victims and improve quality of life for others-but the operation costs $10.000. Should we as a society pay for it, for example, by adding it to services paid for by Medicare or private insurance policies? Improving the health of cardiovascular disease sufferers is valuable, but money spent on heart attacks cannot be spent caring for low-birth-weight infants, buying additional textbooks, or cleaning up the environment. How are we to know if heart attack care is worth more than these other uses? Currently, we do not make these decisions in any systematic way. All medical treatments that improve health are approved for use, [though not necessarily paid for] generally at the doctor's discretion. As a result, we worry that we spend too much on medical care. In the United Kingdom and Canada, by contrast, limits are placed on what can be done. The government determines how many surgical facilities are available, and doctors can only operate on so many patients.

(Cutler, 2004, p. 10)

Though many people are almost petrified by the idea that health care needs to be systematically prioritized it is really the only way that any system, health or otherwise, can fundamentally make sure the system does as much good as possible for the most people. This is not a foreign concept to the U.S. mindset. We accept this adage on many other issues with regard to the public good, (things like environmental protection areas some would argue don't even benefit people, except hopefully in the long-term) an analogy that is better suited is seat belts on school busses, few argue for them and the cost benefit ratio is limited as providing them would be extremely expensive and there are actually very few accidents involving school busses, most of which result in only minor injuries. People seem to accepts such common good ideas, even for the most vulnerable of people our children and yet are resistant to the development of a common… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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