Insurance And Healthcare In Canada

Insurance And Healthcare In Canada
Healthcare is one thing the Canadian government gets mostly right. Its Medicare health insurance scheme provides free basic healthcare to every Canadian citizen regardless of income, employment or other factors. The costs to run this program come from Canadian income tax, making it a form of socialised healthcare.

Each of Canada's seven provinces oversees its own regional healthcare, though the federal government creates the standards under which every province must operate. In general, the function of Medicare is the same in every province though Ontario is beginning to experiment with more of a two-tier approach.

Medicare covers all the basic medical care a person should need. The only sectors not covered are prescription drugs, eye and dental care. If a Canadian needs serious medical treatment for a serious disease or major operation this is also covered by Medicare. Doctors work directly with the insurance companies, who then report to the provincial governments for reimbursement. It's a fairly efficient system.

The only common criticism of Medicare is that long waiting periods are normal for any kind of specialised procedure. This includes getting a consultation from a specialist doctor as well as getting the actual procedure done such as surgery or an MRI scan. The wait periods average between two and four weeks for any kind of complicated medical care, and Canadians are not happy about it.

The waiting period is the focal point of nearly all current debate over Medicare and its future role in Canadian healthcare. One option being discussed is a two-tier approach that lets people pay extra for these specialty services and essentially skip the queue. Others argue that this puts poorer people at a disadvantage and will simply create longer wait times for them.

About 27 per cent of Canadians pay for private insurance to supplement Medicare. Private insurance is mainly used to help offset the costs of prescription medicine, dental and eye care. It cannot in any way speed up the process of getting specialty medical care but often has perks related to Medicare such as private hospital rooms. Private insurance is popular with people who have chronic illnesses and other medical conditions that require regular use of prescription drugs, rehabilitation or regular scans.

While not considered perfect, Canada's national healthcare system is very well run and a good deal for its residents. When compared to America's mess of a healthcare system, Canada looks like a perfect model. It can be frustrating to wait several weeks to get something as simple as a CAT scan, but in the end it's free and the medical care is top-notch.