William Watson: Private health care is OK, but we don’t like to pay
The Montreal Economic Institute has just published the results of a Nov. 22-25 web survey of 1,527 Canadians on the subject of health care that it had Léger Marketing do. Léger weighted the data according to gender, age, region, mother tongue, education and presence of children in the household to be representative of Canada’s population as a whole.
The results suggest Canadians are much more relaxed than most politicians about the prospect of private supply in health care but don’t much like the prospect of paying. Fully 61 per cent of Canadians say they’re satisfied with the health-care system, though (this isn’t shown in the table) only eight per cent are “very satisfied.” On the other hand, only 25 per cent think the health-care system treats patients in a timely fashion, while fully 68 per cent believe people should have the right to buy private health care “if they are not treated within a reasonable time in the public health-care system.” That was the essence of the Supreme Court’s decision in the Chaoulli case in 2005.
Should patients have increased access to “private health entrepreneurs,” as long as the government funds them? Yes, say 68 per cent. Should private companies be allowed to manage public hospitals, so long as governments continue to cover “medically required care”? No, but only by 46 to 42.
Finally, should you be able to see your doctor in a virtual consultation by video or chat app? Yes, say 67 per cent of people. Would you be willing to pay for such consultations? No, 53-34.
Private is fine, it seems, but we still prefer it when other people pay.