No good argument to be made in defence of for-profit health care
Re: The time has come for for-profit health care, letter to the editor, Advocate, June 14:
We can relate with sympathy to the situation that Elizabeth Ross finds herself in and however the accident occurred, it should be possible to receive timely care.
We live in a society in which the supply of good health care is taken for granted. This, however, was most certainly not the case before our present public health service was established when health care was in private hands.
We have been encouraged, particularly since the 1970s, to assume that the private sector is the most efficient in terms of cost and delivery when it comes to the health service or any other sector of the economy.
This hypothesis, however, fails to stand up to any serious analysis.
The obvious comparison for Canadians is the health service of the United States of America, the supposed virtues of which are lauded by many who see health as a vehicle for a return on investment. But what is the reality?
In a report entitled The politics of health care, Elaine Barnard, executive director of the Harvard Trade Union Program, writes:
“To highlight some of the more important differences, in the U.S. today, over 37 million people are without health insurance and a further 53 million are underinsured, which means that they are inadequately insured in the event of a serious illness. Canada by contrast, not only offers all of its residence comprehensive health care. But does it at a far lower cost than the U.S. While Canadians spend 8.7 per cent of their cross national product on health care, or the equivalent of US$1,483 per person, the U.S. spends 11.8 per cent of the GNP, or US$2,051 per person for a health care system that doesn’t provide health care for all.”
In Alberta, we are fortunate in the sense that we are not yet suffering as much as the rest of the world from the crises of the present economic system but we are without doubt sliding down the same path.
The move toward the privatization of things that have previously been the domain of the state is part of the search by big investors, in an ever-diminishing market, for areas in which to make profits.
If we want to see the results of massive privatization, we can examine the present situation in the U.K. where the majority, including 61 per cent of Conservative voters, are so disgusted that they are calling for wholesale re-nationalization of the railways, gas, electricity, water, privatized hospital cleaning and more.
The present Conservative and Liberal coalition government, after receiving a drubbing in the recent local elections, face a catastrophic defeat at the next general election.
But it is not just a question of Canadian, British or American, Conservative or Liberal ideology. Privatization is not the whim of politicians but a measure of the crises of the present economic system.
The only way to guarantee the existence of a comprehensive, reliable, health service is to establish a democratic planned socialist economy that will enable the creation of wealth for the benefit of all.
It requires the election of an NDP government on a socialist program.
Keith Norman Wyatt