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Canadians see increased private health care delivery as a threat to public medicare

OTTAWA, Jan. 21, 2013 /CNW/ - Additional private delivery of health services is seen as a threat rather than a complement to the public system in Canada, according to a survey conducted by EKOS Research Associates for The Conference Board of Canada's Canadian Alliance for Sustainable Health Care.

"Canadians are not particularly optimistic regarding the impacts of private health care, with the majority concluding that allowing private services will cause the public system to deteriorate, rather than increasing its efficiency and helping to reduce wait times," said Louis Thériault, Director, Health Economics.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Three in five Canadians felt that increased private delivery of health care services would weaken the public system.
  • Support for increased private delivery was highest in Alberta and lowest in Eastern and Central Canada.
  • Support for increased private delivery of health care rises with income.

Many publicly funded health care services already are delivered through private enterprises, but Canadians were asked if they believe that allowing more private delivery would improve health care in Canada (by encouraging the public sector to become more efficient and relieving pressure on the public organizations), or whether they felt that this would worsen health care (by diverting limited resources from the public system).

The majority (60 per cent) of respondents said that allowing private services will cause the public system to deteriorate. Only one-third (36 per cent) see private delivery of health care services as a way of improving efficiency and reducing wait times.

Openness to additional private delivery of health care services was highest in Alberta, which was evenly split between respondents who said it would reduce wait times and those who felt it would weaken the public system. Regionally, respondents from Quebec and the Atlantic provinces expressed the most skepticism about more private delivery of health services.

Support for some private delivery of health services was higher among men than women and gained support among respondents with higher incomes. While only 25 per cent of respondents making $20,000 or less supported increased private delivery, 43 per cent of those making $100,000 or more approved of it.

The survey found little support for the idea that individuals should be allowed to pay extra for quicker access to health care services - 57 per cent disagreed, while only 32 per cent of respondents agreed with this idea.

Other findings from the survey, which was conducted in April and May 2012 by EKOS Research Associates, found that:

  • Canadians place a great deal of importance on a public health care system, with nine in ten (89 per cent) saying access to such a system is important, and only five per cent placing little importance on publicly-funded health care;
  • Fully seven in ten (72 per cent) agree that a two-tiered health care system exists;
  • Seven in ten (69 per cent) believe Canadian health care is becoming more two-tiered, and only three per cent believe it is becoming less two-tiered.

EKOS Research Associates conducted a study to update and refine our understanding of Canadian views on health and the health care system.The methodology for this study involved a nationally representative survey of 2,036 Canadians 18 years of age and older. EKOS surveyed 534 Canadians by telephone and 1,502 respondents completed the survey online. The sample source for this study was members of the EKOS panel, which was specifically designed for online/telephone surveys.

The study was supported by the Canadian Medical Association, Accreditation Canada and the Conference Board's Canadian Alliance for Sustainable Health Care (CASHC). Launched in 2011, CASHC is a five-year Conference Board program of research and dialogue. It will delve deeply into facets of Canada's health care challenge, including the financial, workplace, and institutional dimensions, in an effort to develop forward-looking qualitative and quantitative analysis and solutions to make the system more sustainable.

 

SOURCE Conference Board of Canada

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