Sunday, December 7, 2008

Big Questions, Big Stakes: Public versus Private in Canada

This post may not discuss the topic you expect it to.

The thought that I just had today was not on how to answer the age-old question about whether Canada has the right idea in providing healthcare for the population. It was actually whether answering this popular question is useful, or whether it obscures what is important.

I don't want to review the debate too much. Here's some CBC background on the subject. I've also blogged about this topic a bit. You might want to check out 'The Mission of a Medical System' for some thoughts on the general idea of missions. Many of my thoughts are based on a podcast from the Stanford Social Innovation Review called: 'Missions That Really Inspire'.

So, here's my new question...

Is the question of whether health care is a right or a commodity really useful?

Having grown up in Canada I have seen this question debated on many occasions. Most notably, elections have been won and lost on this question. It was also a prime topic in my MBA Health Sector classes at Ivey. The mention of privatization evokes strong and passioned responses from many people, but I am beginning to wonder if the answer would change the underlying problems that need to be fixed? Does talking about the philosophical debates that are undercurrents in a society improve care? Does enshrining health care as a part of national identity lead to a freeze on innovation and prevent us from making the system more resilient?

I'm interested to hear the stories of others who have come up against resistence to change. I'm also curious to hear about other systems and approaches from around the world...

Any takers?

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