Monday, February 4, 2008

Health insurance in Canada

Health insurance in Canada
Most health insurance in Canada is administered by each province, under the national law that requires all people to have free access to basic health services. Collectively, the public provincial health insurance systems in Canada are frequently referred to as Medicare. Private health insurance is allowed, but the provincial governments allow it only for services that the public health plans do not cover; for example, semi-private or private rooms in hospitals and prescription drug plans. Canadians are free to use private insurance for elective medical services such as Lasik surgery, plastic surgery such as liposuction, and other non-basic medical procedures. Some 65% of Canadians have some form of supplementary private health insurance; many of them receive it through their employers.[18] Private-sector services not paid for by the government account for nearly 30 percent of total health care spending.[19]

In 2005, the Supreme Court of Quebec ruled, in Chaoulli v. Quebec, that the province's prohibition on insurance for health care already insured by the state could constitute an infringement of the right to life and security if there were long wait times for treatment as happened in this case. Certain other provinces have legislation which financially discourages but does not forbid private health insurance in areas covered by the public plans. The ruling has not changed the overall pattern of health insurance across Canada but has spurred on attempts to tackle the core issues of supply and demand and the impact of wait times.[20]

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