Thursday, March 30, 2006

Don't hold your breath for one-tier health care

From the London Free Press:
[Ontario Medical Association] president Dr. Greg Flynn yesterday said there are good intentions behind the McGuinty government's promotion of the [family health] teams that are designed to bring together doctors, nurses, social workers, physiotherapists, mental health workers and dietitians.

But the teams also are causing serious inequities and fostering two-tiered medicine, according to the association.

[…] The contentious part of the system is that patients of the new teams will be given free access to a number of services, such as physiotherapy, diabetes management and health education. But if their doctor is not part of the limited number of teams, patients will have to pay for services such as physiotherapy out of their own pockets.

"This represents a two-tiered structure, a have and have-not scenario, in which the vast majority of 12 million patients do not have equal access to primary health care," Flynn wrote in an editorial in the Ontario Medical Review.
All well and good for the president of the OMA to call attention to inequities in what is supposed to be an egalitarian system — but what makes the OMA think it could be otherwise? When the government has a monopoly on the distribution of resources, people must be dependent on unequal political interests and the motivations of connected special interest groups to have their health care demands met. Moreover, the distribution of individual health care demands is and can never be equal, and the distribution of funding health care cost liabilities is far from equal. Ontario has never had equal-access one-tier health care.

Not that the OMA is worth listening to on the subject of health care allocation anyway — it turned itself into little more than a crown corporation a long time ago.