In 2007 we attended SOS Medicare II, a high-profile national conference in Regina looking at the unfinished Medicare agenda.
Tommy Douglas’ original vision for Medicare extended far beyond what we have in Canada today. Once the envy of the world, our Medicare system is now wanting compared to other developed nations which have a much broader scope of public coverage.
Canada is drawing closer to the United States than Europe in the percentage of our health care system that remains totally private. The evidence is clear – the U.S. system is the most costly in the world and fails to deliver good population-based health outcomes. We spend far less than our neighbours to the south, live longer and have a much better infant mortality rate. If we want a truly more sustainable health care system, then perhaps it is time to start looking at expanding public coverage instead of delisting more services.
This year Pharmacare – public coverage for prescription drugs – is getting particular attention due to increased interest by the provinces. Canada is an outlier among developed nations for our lack of a universal Pharmacare program. While Conservatives would scoff at the cost of such a program, the reality is Canadians would stand to save substantially on health care costs with its introduction.
In February we were in Vancouver for Pharmacare 2020, a two-day event that involved a cross-section of patient advocates, pharmaceutical companies, insurance providers, academics and labour. (Read our stories here.)
Two more events are now on the horizon: