“Canadians use emergency rooms more than people from 10 other countries, mainly because they can’t get access to their regular medical care during weekends and evenings, a new survey says.”
Issues like this seem fairly simple to me. When the Government intervenes in something, despite the best intentions, it always causes shortages and quality issues.
To set the stage for a parallel example what if your car needed an oil change today? I would argue that it would take you only a few hours to find a business that could perform the services you require and at a reasonable cost. You have many options; Canadian Tire, Mr. Lube, The Great Canadian Oil Change and many other businesses that all can change your oil and for the most part the cost and service is the same.
Now lets look at the ‘I need a prescription filled’ or ‘I have an ache / pain’ scenario. The Provincial medical plans typically only pay a small fee per visit per issue (I am the only one that has had a Doctor tell me to book another appointment when I had more than a few issues to discuss). This results in the assembly line system that most clinic have where you are rushed though like cattle. Most Doctors do want to provide decent service to their patients so they will limit the number of them that they see. If you double the number of patients that cuts in half the likelihood you can book an appointment at any given time. Now add to this the fact that these visits are ‘free’. There is no incentive to limit the frequency that you see your doctor or the ER for that matter. The end result is wait times and bad service.
The solution is simple: Allow a free market in health care and time we release the shackles of the Canada Health Act. Allow Doctors operate a true private practice, to charge for exams, prescriptions etc. You will see some real innovative Doctors using web / email / phone to eliminate the routine stuff that clogging up the system. You can still offer the universal system to those that need it but a parallel private system is the only option. Pouring more money into a bottomless pit won’t solve anything. When something is free and you don’t set limits on the quantity available are we really surprised by the outcome?