Two Tier Medicine – Good or Bad?

I have experienced private medicine in the US in the past when I’ve gotten sick on business trips.  My experiences in the US were generally good – fast, quality service, with current diagnostic tools – but for a price.   When I walked into an emergency ward in Texas, the first words out of the reception nurse was not “What is the problem?”, but rather “How will you be paying?”   In all cases I was lucky enough to have Blue Cross or company insurance cover the extra medical expenses.

I recently experienced private, two tier medicine in Canada.  I visited MEDCAN in Toronto for their “comprehensive health assessment”.   It took approximately 6 hours from start to finish and covered off tests that would have normally taken several days out of my time over a period of  weeks to  attend and then have the subsequent follow-up meeting with the doctor.  The MEDCAN service was fast, quality service, with current diagnostic tools – but for a price.

I talked about the experience with a doctor friend of mine who runs a large family practice in Ontario.   He was very much against two tier medicine in Canada because he feels it is undermining public medicine.   He holds that medicine in Canada should be a public service – available to everyone regardless of wealth or position.

What do you think?

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One thought on “Two Tier Medicine – Good or Bad?

  1. Brent

    This brings to mind a dinner meeting I had recently with a colleague from the US. He told a story about having a medical emergency while in a somewhat remote area in a northern US state. Authorities recommended that he drive up to Canada to get help. He did and was completely impressed by the quality of service, and the fact that he was never asked “How will you be paying?” until after he had been helped, even though he was from another country!

    I felt pride that our medical system has the right priorities. And while the broader issue of affordability of the current system is a valid debate, I will always be wary of any changes that make healthcare a profit-making business, rather than a basic right of our citizens.

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