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Canadian Health Care
Canada is regarded as having one of the best health care services systems in the world. All Canadians residents are eligible to health care irrespective of income and health. However, like any benefit, there are a few exceptions that are governed in the policies of the provincial or federal governments. Although this system benefits Canadians immensely, there are still some people debating that by privatizing health care, better health care services would be available. However, another aspect of this is that the premium health care services would be only be affordable by the wealthy.
The Canada Health Act was passed in 1984 by the parliament. This act established its principles on 5 main criteria:
1. Accessibility: all insured Canadians should have reasonable access to all health care services, as well as all health care providers must be equally compensated for the services provided.
2. Portability: any insured Canadian that moves to a different province is permitted to health care coverage for a territorial determined waiting period.
3. Universality: all Canadians insured by the Canada Health Act are eligible to equal levels of health care.
4. Public administration: all of the administration of health services needs to be done on a non-profit basis by a public authority.
5. Comprehensiveness: all health care services determined by the provinces require to be insured.
The province and territories manage and provide the required health insurance to all its residents. In order to be eligible for health care benefits, the residents need to apply for a provincial health card. Once, the health card is issued, the individual is eligible to receive free health care for all necessary health services as listed by the province they reside in. There is a maximum waiting period of 3 months in being able to receive health care, for new residents.
Some provinces provide additional health care services in addition to what is listed in the Canadian Health Care Act; however they are not required to provide any additional services than what is stated in the Act. For any additional health care service, like dental or optometry, people usually get private insurance, or employers give additional insurance to their employees.
Health care funding is provided by both provincial and federal taxation from both individual and corporate income taxes. Additional financing is also obtained from sales taxes and proceeds from the lottery. Additional funds are delivered to the provinces by the federal government through the Canadian Health and Social Transfer. The funds are paid by cash contributions and tax transfer and to the provinces.
The Canadian Health and Social Transfer is a transfer of funds from the federal government to the provinces for post-secondary education, health care, and social assistance. The provincial governments are not required to show the use of the transfer income; therefore the percentage used for health care is unknown. Although provinces may choose to spend this transfer as they choose, they have to follow the Canadian Health Act and they cannot impose any residency restrictions for the social assistance. If these two conditions are not met the cash transfer to the provinces can be reduced.
The Canadian Health and Social Transfer is distributed to the provinces at an equal per capita entitlement, but the cash transfer, which is dependent on the conditions set by the federal government, will vary across provinces. In order to receive an equal average of entitlements, provinces that have higher earnings will get more tax transfers, whereas the other provinces will receive more cash transfers.
Critics of the health care system state that there should be a record of the federal government’s contribution towards health care. Recommended solutions to this are to either separate the Canadian Health and Social Transfer into three separate parts, showing amounts for health, post-secondary education and social assistance or to separate the health care portion from the latter two portions.
Since 1984, there have been numerous changes to the Canada Health Act, and it will continue to evolve as the requirements of the society change along with the advancements in the world of medicine. Regardless of what number of commentators has to say about the health care system, it is still viewed as the most successful and valuable health care systems of the modern era.
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