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Buying private health care

ABJ’s ANTONIA McGUIRE dissects the issue of private health care with Richard Baker, who is founder of the Vancouver-based company Timely Medical Alternatives in which helps Canadians obtain private health care, including in the U.S.

Following the national story about Canadian provincial Premier Danny Williams’s decision to have heart surgery in the U.S., I weighed in on the Globe and Mail’s live discussion with Richard Baker who explains the ins and outs of getting private health care. There were many great questions and answers in today’s afternoon discussion. Here’s an excerpt from the online chat.



“As a Canadian I believe in the value of having a universal health care system (certainly I have benefited from this social net as journalism only pays so much). As the editor of the American Business Journal, we discussed the issues of the healthcare reform in length and I’d have to agree with Premier Williams’ decision. If you can afford it, why not? After all, it takes the pressure of the public system,” I posted on the live chat.

“I believe in a Universal Healthcare system too, but having a universal healthcare system does not preclude having a parallel private healthcare system, for those like Danny, who can afford to pay for faster service,” Baker responded via the live chat.

Another Canadian born, Long Beach, California resident posed the question: “what is good enough for ‘free’ care? Not dying?” To which Baker responded: “Not sure what point you’re trying make …but consider that 3 percent of the American public (10 million people) cannot afford basic healthcare insurance. That compares to 3 percent of the Canadian public, who can afford healthcare, but cannot get access to it and are on interminably long waitlists.”

Another blogger by the name of Alan weighed in. “My worry is that we’ll ghettoize the free care with declining levels of service while the pay to play tier will get all the advantages. It appears that this has happened in Europe and even in Japan to some extent.”

Baker responded in saying: “I think the way to look at this is to observe that there are zero waiting lists in Japan, the cost of delivering public healthcare is significantly less than the cost per capita in Canada. If the end result is that people paying for private healthcare get better service, it is no different than the fact that people in Canada paying for the very best in dentistry have the best dental care, yet people are not critical of their fellow citizens for accessing high quality dentistry.”

Finally, he argued the templates are out there for anyone interested. “If [Canadians] were to adopt the same system as Japan or Switzerland, it would be a very good start. Are they perfect? No. But once the parallel private tier was in place, we could hopefully modify it to Canadian needs,” said Baker, adding a comparative note to other healthcare systems. “But, if they move to Obamacare, as they are proposing, they will be in the same predicament that we are approaching in Canada—absolute unaffordability,” argues Baker.

One cannot help but wonder if his last statement is a bit of a stretch. Now, the floor is open to you—what do you think? Weigh on the discussion by commenting here.

To view the entire excerpt, please visit: 

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