I read with a combination of interest and dread, the news story on couples petitioning to have In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) covered under Ontario’s health plan. Interest to see what the outcome is; dread because I’m already fairly certain what the outcome will be and where that will lead us.
Socialized healthcare is a complicated issue that raises difficult moral and ethical questions. What should be covered and what shouldn’t? Who do you treat and for how long? Where do you draw the line?
I work in healthcare in a major hospital that has one of the busiest Emergency Departments in the country, seeing over 200 patients per day. The majority of these patients aren’t ill enough to even justify a visit to their GP, let alone make use of a hospital ER. So why do they come? Because it’s free.
Our healthcare system has bred a generation of hypochondriacs who go to their doctor or their local hospital for things as innocuous as a mild cold or a papercut or just because they’re lonely and want to chat. They insist on being checked out for every minor ache or pain – just because they can.
Add in the growing culture of entitlement and you now have a recipe for disaster. As it is, our healthcare system can barely cope with medically necessary procedures. If we start adding in frivolous procedures like IVF, our system is destined to collapse. I fully understand that to a couple struggling to conceive, IVF is far from “frivolous”, but there is no question that it is not a medically necessary procedure.
We simply cannot afford to go down the route of catering to everyone’s needs. The role of the government is to maintain order, not to spoon feed a population that is unwilling to take responsibility for their own lives.
By no means am I advocating a US-style system of healthcare. They have a completely different set of problems to deal with. There has to be a blending of private and public healthcare systems, or at the very least, instill some sort of “user pays” set-up in Canada.
There are many options. It could be as simple as charging a nominal $10-20 fee for a doctor or hospital visit. That alone would eliminate much of the abuse on our system. Then there’s Germany’s model where those who lead a healthy lifestyle receive a refund from the government, while those who actually use the medical system pay top dollar. Personally, I like Australia’s private/public system – it encompasses the best of both worlds. With the number of bright minds in our country, I’m quite certain that they could come up with something workable.
The bottom line is this: with a decreasing tax base and aging boomers putting more and more pressure on our healthcare system, our current model is unsustainable. If we want to continue to have socialized healthcare in this country, the people in charge need to start making some of those difficult moral and ethical decisions that they have been avoiding for the last 40 years. If they are unwilling to make those decisions, they had best come up with a new healthcare model. Fast. If we continue on our current course of including everything and denying nobody, there is no question that we will bankrupt our country.
As a population, we need to take off the blinders and be realistic. We can’t have it both ways. If we want the government to be responsible for our health and well-being, then we have to allow them to make the tough decisions required to maintain that system. If you don’t trust them to make those decisions, then socialized healthcare can never work.