More Canadians open to private health care, survey finds
A new survey suggests Canadians are becoming more open to the idea of more private clinics to allow everyone quicker access to health care.
More than half of Canadians surveyed by the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions say they like the idea of more private health care -- but only if it means shorter wait times and no harm to the publicly-funded system.
The study of the attitudes of more than 2,000 adults found that 56 per cent support increasing private care services but only if there is no impact on the current publicly-funded health care system.
Fifty per cent said they like the idea of more private health care clinics if it resulted in an overall reduction in wait times for public care.
Mark Fam, the senior manager with Deloitte National Health Services and the lead author for the Canadian health consumer survey, says his survey suggests attitudes are shifting.
"We see an interest in expanding private care if there is truly no impact on the public health care system. That's a very important point," he told Canada AM Wednesday. "There is still some opposition but there is a majority saying we're open to it if there is no impact."
"I think this speaks to the fact that Canadians still have very strong confidence in the public health care system."
Fam says there were a few contradictions in the survey results about how happy Canadians are with the current system.
For example, Canadians were asked to grade the health care system in this country; 43 per cent gave it an 'A' or a 'B', while in the U.S., only about 21 per cent gave it a similar grade.
In addition, significantly fewer Canadians than American believe that half or more of health system spending is wasted (15 per cent of Canadians versus 52 per cent of Americans).
But when Canadians were asked whether they were happy with their most recent hospital care experience, only 62 per cent said they were satisfied, as compared to 74 per cent of Americans.
The survey also found that Canadians have ideas about how to make the current system better. They want their doctors to adopt the technologies that have changed their own lives: email and the Internet.
Almost two thirds (61 per cent) want their doctors, hospitals and/or the government to provide them with a personal health record or medical records they can access through a secure website. And two-thirds would like to be able to access a family member's health record.
About 51 per cent are interested in gaining access to a secure Internet site that allows them to schedule office visits, view test results, order prescription refills, find information about treatment options, and check status of bills and payments.
Similarly, 49 per cent want to be able to contact their doctor by email to exchange information about their health and get answers to questions.
Other findings from the study show that 75 per cent of Canadians have private health insurance (primarily through their employer) but that only 25 per cent feel "well-insured" across their public and private insurance plans. As well, only 39 per cent feel they are well-prepared to handle future health care costs.
For the survey, Deloitte polled 2,304 Canadian adults in November with a questionnaire consisting of 74 questions with 46 potential follow up questions.
The Deloitte Center for Health Solutions is part of the Deloitte family of tax, audit, and financial advisory services. The Center researches health care issues facing governments and health care providers, including the growing trend of health care consumerism.