Sunday, March 23, 2008

Re: Quebec opens door to more private health care

The Castonguay Commission’s report on health care in Quebec recommends a number of pro-privatization solutions, including the sale of duplicate private insurance for medically necessary care.

In most provinces, such private duplicate insurance is illegal under the Canada Health Act. These findings were predictable from the outset given that Claude Castonguay was trained as an insurance actuary and was once President of the Canadian Institute of Actuaries. He is a longtime proponent of private health insurance coverage, increased private delivery of care, “double dipping” into both the public and private purses, and user fees.

In research analysis, we are trained to look for the inherent biases in a study before we accept the findings. When a study finds, for example, that “butter is good for you”, but it’s sponsored by the Dairy Association, we have to ask ourselves whether there is some self-interest in the conclusion. When a report of drug industry-sponsored research says that a drug shows a favourable outcome, we must question the safety and efficacy of the drug. Similarly, the perception of bias in Castonguay'’s support of private insurance makes all of the Commission’s pro-privatization and pro-market recommendations highly suspect.

Karen Palmer, Alan Katz, Nan Okun and Bob Woollard; Members of the Board of CDM-MCRP.

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