The Canadian health care Industry was the second largest employer in the country exactly three years ago. The industry, having employed two million people, is paramount to the economic development of the country. The Canadian health care industry is unique in several ways since it has no common public plan; instead, it is characterized by regional insurance schemes also referred to as the territorial insurance plans (O'Neil, 1997). The functions and tasks in the industry are handled jointly by the private sector, and the goverment. This is done in such an approach that the public sector handles the funding whereas the private sector does the delivery of the actual services. Further to the sharing of the responsibilities and duties, the federal administration and the regional governments handle the medical services at different levels. Canada does not have a single national arrangement but regional insurance arrangements. This paper seeks to explain the various features of the Canadian health care, the a range of problems that have to be addressed in the system and the most prominent proposed ways of dealing with the problems in the industry.
The principal features of the Canadian health care
The Canadian healthcare is characterized by a merge of private and public engrossment. The public sector is the key financer of the citizen’s health concerns. Even, so the private sector remains the key provider of the health care services. The outstanding features or elements of the health care system of the country are as follows:
Health care professionals
Majorly, when we talk of health care professionals in Canada, we are referring to the doctors, general physicians, specialized medics and the nurses. The healthcare professionals in the nation can be labelled according to the kind of services they offer (Fierlbeck, 2011). The health care services offered in Canada can be categorized into three. The first category is the primary or the basic services. These are the medical services offered by the family physicians. The family doctors give personal attention to the members of the particular family and get paid accordingly. The primary health services are as well offered through the telephone where the patients or the clients call the medical experts for medical advice and guidance. Primary health care practitioners offer referral services. They direct the patients that need extra care to higher levels of the system.
The secondary services are those services offered by medical institutions such hospitals and dispensaries. Such services include the administration of drugs and general therapy, handling of emergency cases such as accidents casualties and victims of violence (Gratzer, 2002). Such health facilities as well handle such services as guidance and counseling. These services are offered to various groups according to their unique needs. They handle such people as drug addicts that are on their way to reformation, HIV/AIDS victims that need medical, psychological as well as nutritional support and orphaned children that need to grow and lead a normal life. Other specialized medical services are as well handled at the secondary level. Specialized services include such complicated procedures as dialysis and major surgical operations especially the ones involving transplants of various body parts.
The third category is the additional care services. Such services include specialized attention that is not offered by the provincial care insurance schemes (Gratzer, 2002). These include such services as prescription of the medicines, dental care and optic attention. These are not handled by general physicians but rather by those doctors that have specialized further. A general physician is a doctor who studies medicine at the undergraduate level. A specialist on the other hand is one that has, in addition to the basic undergraduate studies, specialized in the treatment of some particular parts of the body. For instance, an optician is a doctor who specializes in the treatment, as well as the study of the human eye.
This is the second feature of the Canadian health care system. By federalism in health care we mean that the regional governments have the mandate to make decisions relating to the administration of health care (Raphael, 2004). They can actually pass laws governing the administration of health care. Essentially health care in Canada falls under the docket of the regional administrations but is guided by some guidelines put in place by the federal government. The provincial governments have to stick to these guiding principle to be eligible for funding from the federal government. Even so, the regional governments have autonomy when it comes to the creation of public policy. The healthcare is therefore not a national idea but rather a collage of policies.
Health care delivery and financing
The delivery of health care refers to the process of organizing, administration and actual provision of the health services (Drummond, 2005). This, as mentioned earlier is left in the power of the private sector following the inadequacies of the public sector. Certainly, the public sector has various inefficiencies that make the quality of health care poor. The financing of the health services is two-fold. One type of such payment is the one borne by the individual in totality. This is referred to as the out-of-pocket financing. This is done when the patient is not covered or wants to avoid the bureaucratic procedures of having to wait for the insurance plan to materialize (Raphael, 2004). The second type of financing is the cost-sharing where the individual and the insurance scheme pay the bill in a certain ratio.
The problems that need to be addressed in the Canadian health care
Just like many health care programs in most of the western nations, the Canadian health care has many pitfalls. Such setbacks have made the health care industry inefficient. The problems that need to be addressed in the Canadian healthcare include:
Lack of adequate medical personnel
The problem of inadequate staff in the medical facilities is the reason for the long waits that patients have to endure before they get medical attention. There have been reported cases where the patients have to wait on the queue for three months before they can be attended by the hospital attendants (Gratzer, 2002). People have had to book appointments three months earlier so as to avoid unforeseen disturbances. This has resulted in the deaths of many.
The imbalances of the healthcare patchwork
As stated earlier, the healthcare policy is not uniform as public policy changes from one province to another; hence, it implies that the Canadian citizens are not served with the same degree of attention. Some receive better healthcare than other people in different regions.
The autonomy given to the provinces in as far as policy making is concerned is not total or full autonomy (Evans & Roos, 1999). The leaders in the provinces are limited in their decision making power. They are restricted by some federal provisions compliance with which is the basis for allocation of funds.
Improvement in the public sector healthcare
The public healthcare policy should not be taken to pieces. Instead, it should be enhanced because if the healthcare is left entirely in the mandate of the private sector, it will be very costly to the common citizens (Fierlbeck, 2011). The major strength of this proposal is that it will yield maximum benefit to the public. The key weakness is that it does not offer an immediate solution.
Training and employing of more specialists
It is proposed that the government should facilitate the opening and running of many training centers that will ensure more medical personnel are available. This will reduce the agony of long waits that the citizens have to endure to get medical attention. This proposal is weak in the sense that it requires too much time to take effect. It is strong in the sense that it provides a long term solution.
Prevention of illnesses
Research has it that the persistent diseases account for sixty percent of the medical costs incurred in the country. Through immunization and health campaigns, the chronic diseases can be reduced a great deal. This will cut down on the cost incurred on health care. The money so salvaged can be put into other constructive uses.
Improvement in delivery of health care
The way in which health care is managed, organized and administered can be improved through teamwork among the doctors (O'Neil, 1997). If doctors come together and stop the act of practicing as individuals, healthcare will be better delivered. The foremost weakness of this solution is that its practicability is not easy since doctors have already established private practice.
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Evans, R & Roos, N. (1999). What Is Right About The Canadian Health Care System? The Policy Forum. Winnipeg: University Of Manitoba
Fierlbeck, K. (2011). Health Care in Canada: a Citizen’s Guide to Policy and Politics. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, Inc
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Raphael. D. (2004). Social Determinants of Health: Canadian Perspectives. Ontario: Canadian Scholar’s Press, Inc