KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Private Health System Takes Root In British Columbia

The Los Angeles Times reports that consumers in Canada are "beginning to flirt with private-sector medicine."

"Hoping to capitalize on patients who might otherwise go to the U.S. for speedier care, a network of technically illegal private clinics and surgical centers has sprung up in British Columbia, echoing a trend in Quebec. In October, the courts will be asked to decide whether the budding system should be sanctioned."

So far the system has attracted more than 70 private health care providers, who do simple surgeries and tests "with waits as short as a week or two, compared with the months it takes for a public surgical suite to become available for nonessential operations," according to the Times.

But the move into privatized care threatens to extend already existing delays faced by patients because of doctor shortages and "rationing of facilities." With this trend, "there will be fewer skilled healthcare workers in government hospitals as doctors and nurses are lured into better-paying private jobs, they say" (Murphy, 9/27).

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