MONTREAL, Feb. 21, 2012 /CNW Telbec/ - As headlines in the last few days
have again reminded us, emergency room overcrowding and long waiting
times for surgery have not diminished in Canada. Other developed
countries are doing a better job of managing these problems through use
of the private sector.
In the last two decades, many public hospitals have been privatized in
Germany, so much so that the share held by private for-profit hospitals
has gone from 15% to 33% during this time. Frederik Roeder, a health
economist and author of the Economic Note published today by the Montreal Economic Institute (MEI), shows that
this change has improved the quality of health care without
"Contrary to a widespread fear in Canada, private hospitals do not cut
corners in quality of service to reduce their costs," Mr. Roeder
states. "Studies show that the success of private institutions relies
on their reputations: higher-quality care is what enables them to
attract patients and make profits." For example, the organization in
charge of monitoring the quality of care in Germany has found 9% more
problems in public hospitals than in for-profit private hospitals.
Canada and Germany share similar values of universality in health care,
and both devote about 12% of GDP to it. But in terms of actual care,
the Germans are much better served. "Long waits in emergency rooms are
a non-existent phenomenon in Germany," notes the author.
To fulfil the needs of patients, private institutions have managed, for
example, to reduce the number of cases per doctor at a pace five times
faster than public hospitals. Ten years later, doctors were thus able
to spend 25% more time with their patients. In addition, privatized
hospitals have produced efficiency gains exceeding those of public
hospitals by 3.2% to 5.4%.
"The German experience proves that the involvement of private actors can
have positive effects and poses no threat to the universality of health
care," remarks Michel Kelly-Gagnon, the president and CEO of the MEI.
"Germany has integrated a large proportion of private hospitals within
its public health care system, yet public financing is still at a level
comparable to that of Canada."
The Economic Note titled The private sector within a public health care system: the German
example, prepared by health economist Frederik Cyrus Roeder in collaboration
with MEI economist Yanick Labrie, may be consulted free of charge at www.iedm.org.
The Montreal Economic Institute is an independent, non-partisan,
not-for-profit research and educational organization. Through its
publications, its media interventions and its conferences, the MEI
stimulates debate on public policies in Quebec and across Canada by
proposing wealth-creating reforms based on market mechanisms. It does
not accept any government funding.
SOURCE MONTREAL ECONOMIC INSTITUTE
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