Given that the Republican and President Trump’s Obamacare repeal and replace health care bill just died in the Congress, I want to remind Americans that a health care system like we have in Canada is neither a single payer system, nor is it free.
Let me explain. Health care in Canada is governed by the five principles of the federal Canada Health Act (CHA): (1) that it is Publicly Administered, (2) that it is Comprehensive, (3) that it is Universally available to everyone, (4), that it is Portable throughout the country, and (5) it is Accessible.
While technically, all ten provinces and three territories must adhere to those principles, officials tend to interpret those principles in different ways.
In Quebec, for example, private clinics are allowed to operate. In Ontario, we have a private hernia hospital in Toronto called Shouldice but other than that, private clinics where patients pay out of their own pocket, are not allowed. In BC, a private clinic is taking the government to court arguing that by making patients wait weeks or months for medically necessary services and not allowing them to purchase private services, the government is contributing to the patient’s decline.
The difference in Ontario is that while most community-based labs and clinics are for-profit, Ontario citizens simply provide their OHIP (pronounced O-hip) health card (as shown in the above image) and the for-profit bills the government directly for payment.