Re: “Public-private tandem system can work well” (Citizen, June 10)
After reading the letter from Anthony Matthews it seems that the points he makes actually underscore why we do not want a two-tier system.
He says that doctors in Britain work one-quarter of their time in the private system and three-quarters in the public system. That means that each doctor can see 25 per cent fewer patients in the public system than they otherwise would be able to see. Moreover, in that 25 per cent of their private patient time, those doctors are seeing fewer patients. Because the wealthy patients that they do see are paying for Cadillac service, they do not see as many of them as they would of public sector patients, so the decrease in overall patients needing medical services does not equal that 25 per cent.
British Columbia already has an alarming shortage of family doctors and nurses. We do not need to change to a system that effectively would reduce access by almost 25 per cent.
His second example, of the scarcity of expensive equipment such as MRIs in the public system would also not be helped by having a dual public-private system. He implies that it is the government monopoly that keeps the cost for these procedures high. However, access to this equipment supplied by the private sector must not only cover the costs of the equipment and staffing etc., but must also generate a handsome profit for the business owners, something the public sector does not have to do.
Moreover, when the costs for access to this private equipment are paid for by the public health care system, it just makes sense that that money is not available to purchase the necessary equipment for the public system. On both counts, a bad deal for the majority of people who need access to those tests.
In addition to the issue that two-tier health care is patently unfair to the majority of people, many studies have shown that good health is one of the key determinants of economic well being. We must ensure that we are not further widening the growing chasm between the one per cent and the rest of us by reducing access to health care for the majority.