Stop Navel-Gazing, Learn From Healthcare Abroad: C.D. Howe Institute

TORONTO, Jan. 31, 2012 /CNW/ - Canada's provinces could learn from the Dutch and UK models as they seek better value for money in healthcare delivery, according to a new report from the C.D. Howe Institute. In Better Value for Money in Healthcare: European Lessons for Canada, economists Ake Blomqvist and Colin Busby highlight methods to curb costs and improve healthcare quality in the Netherlands and United Kingdom. "Reforms there   are delivering better value for money while adhering to similar equity principles as those underlying the Canadian system," says Professor Blomqvist, the Health Policy Scholar at the C.D. Howe Institute.

Modern health systems everywhere face similar pressures. Populations are aging, government revenues are dwindling, and new technologies are increasing expectations and costs. But countries respond differently to these pressures and, say the authors, Canadians should take a serious look at what is being done in Europe.

The United Kingdom, like Canada, funds most health services through general tax revenue, but focuses health delivery through a single, primary care provider who acts as gateway to the health system. UK family doctors maintain a roster of patients, and they are paid per patient rather than on a fee-for-service basis, note the authors. "Doctors profit from keeping a good number of patients healthy, rather than from repeat patient visits," notes Colin Busby, Senior Policy Analyst at the Institute. These features have helped contain healthcare costs.

Meanwhile, the Dutch health system, contrasting with Canada's, allows private and public health insurers to compete in delivering the care citizens need. "People in Holland are free to choose from a variety of plans and receive a government subsidy to purchase health insurance, which enables competition among plans with different characteristics," says Blomqvist. "These reforms are fairly new, but once they take full effect the Dutch approach could drive down the costs of delivering quality healthcare."

Both the UK and the Netherlands have developed tools to promote cost-effective use of health resources. Canadians, and their provincial premiers, should take a serious look at how they have done it, conclude the authors.

For the study go to:

SOURCE C.D. Howe Institute

For further information:

Ake Blomqvist, Adjunct Research Professor, Carleton University and Health Policy Scholar at the C.D. Howe Institute; Colin Busby, Senior Policy Analyst, C.D. Howe Institute, 416-865-1904; email:

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