Unsustainable healthcare costs can only be solved by hybrid healthcare system

TORONTO, July 24, 2012 /CNW/ - Dr. Douglas Mark, President of the Coalition of Family Physicians and Specialists of Ontario (COFPS), announced today that it is time for Ontario to look at a hybrid healthcare system to meet the needs of the Ontario public. "It's time to make a change; it's time to allow other options in Ontario, as they do in Alberta, Quebec and B.C.".

A hybrid healthcare system would provide all medically necessary services to the public, but also allow those who wish to pay for expanded or faster services the ability to do so, thereby freeing scarce resources for others.  In contrast, it is illegal in Ontario to purchase private healthcare services, even if a patient is willing to pay for it.

Ontario continues to rely on an outdated and rigid universal healthcare system that is unsustainable, explained Dr. Mark. "The McGuinty government's simplistic solution to slash budgets without a long-term solution is both inefficient and ineffective that will only worsen our healthcare crisis."

In fact, there are a number of issues that have created the healthcare crisis in Ontario. The number of baby boomers over 65 will double in the next 25 years; by 2030, there will be 40 retirees for every 100 working person - up from 21 in 2003. This means a decrease in taxpayer dollars to fund government services, including healthcare. In addition, people over the age of 65 access the healthcare system more frequently and thereby cost five times as much compared to the rest of the population.

"Taxpayers can not keep up with the increasing expense of the healthcare system," said Dr. Mark. "The Ministry is busy convincing the public that physicians are to blame for lack of services, and for the financial woes of our healthcare system." In addition, medical technology continues to become more innovative and thus, more expensive. Because diseases and illnesses are being diagnosed even earlier than before, there are more patients being treated. While this is good news for patients, costs must also increase to meet that need.

All of this, plus the McGuinty government's mishandling of millions of dollars through scandals such as ORNGE and e-Health, have contributed to the current healthcare crisis. "Our current healthcare model is simply not structurally or financially equipped for long-term sustainability," said Dr. Mark. A hybrid healthcare system will not need to rely on shrinking public resources as its sole source of funding. This type of hybrid system has already been adopted around the world as well as some Canadian provinces, such as Quebec, Alberta and British Columbia.

"If the McGuinty government continues along its current way of thinking, we will see more cuts to funding that will directly affect patient care," said Dr. Mark. "Waiting lists for family doctors, specialists, and treatments will increase and patients will become sicker or even die while waiting. It's time to make a change - it's time to allow other options in Ontario."

The ailing Ontario healthcare system that the McGuinty government continues to fight to protect isn't even well-ranked by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which comprises 34 countries including most of Europe, Canada, the US and parts of Asia. In 2010, a detailed study of select healthcare systems concluded that despite spending 11 per cent of the GDP on healthcare, Canada ranked poorly on important indicators such as quality and accessibility compared to most of these countries, all of which utilize the hybrid public-private funding model. In fact, while Austria, Spain, Iceland and Sweden spent a smaller percentage of GDP on healthcare, their life expectancy is better than Canada. Furthermore, South Korea spends 40 per cent less of their total GDP on healthcare and yet have the same life expectancy as Canada. As part of 11 recommendations that were made, the OECD specifically advocated that Canada make private health insurance available to the Canadian public.

The Coalition has released the first of two bulletins to physicians today, which included a letter to distribute to their patients and to educate them on the current issues and on a feasible and sustainable solution.  The second bulletin, which focuses on the hybrid healthcare system, will be released July 31st, 2012.  These bulletins can be found on the cofps.ca website.  Dr. Mark concluded, "The bottom line is that the government is rationing healthcare services.  Even worse, it is denying patients the right to get them any other way."

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The Future of Our Healthcare System: Part 1 of 2
(Insert link to bulletin: http://www.cofps.ca/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/24-07-12-Hybrid-Bulletin-1-final.pdf)

SOURCE: The Coalition of Family Physicians and Specialists of Ontario

For further information:

Michelle Regnier-Davies

Executive Director


(416) 412-1474

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The Coalition of Family Physicians and Specialists of Ontario

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