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The MEI recommends a dose of entrepreneurship for the health care system

Montreal, November 24, 2011 – The federal government and several of the provinces have officially declared 2011 the “Year of the Entrepreneur.” In this spirit, the Montreal Economic Institute (MEI) today launches a publication explaining how entrepreneurial initiatives could bring innovation and dynamism to the health sector and provide the population with better care.

For Yanick Labrie, author of the Economic Note, increased health care spending is not necessarily a bad thing because it is perfectly normal for an aging population, and a more prosperous one, to want more health care. “What is a cause for concern is the fact that higher public spending has not led to better services. There is absolutely no question that entrepreneurs could be called upon to meet the increased demand more efficiently,” he explains.

Laser eye surgery (LASIK) provides a good example of the way in which entrepreneurs have succeeded in incorporating increasingly advanced technologies while simultaneously reducing the cost of treatments over the years. In less than ten years, the price for this kind of surgery has fallen from around $5,000 to less than $2,000, with a satisfaction rate of over 95%.

Instead of celebrating these kinds of successes, though, governments keep obstacles in place that discourage any initiatives that threaten to shake up the status quo.

Quebec’s 1,900 health co-ops and clinics will be scrutinized by a new squad of inspectors from Quebec’s Health Insurance Board (RAMQ) in order to fight illegal billing. The same approach is being applied in Ontario, where a record 189 investigations were carried out in 2010-2011. “We’re throwing a wrench in the works for doctors-entrepreneurs who want to help fill in the gaps of the public system. You have to wonder if the need to follow the rules is not taking precedence in many cases over patients’ interests,” observes the researcher.

“Discussions about the future of the health care system are polarized between those who demand greater public spending to meet patients’ needs and those who want to reduce services to limit costs. To meet patients’ needs at lower costs and allow those patients freedom of choice, we instead have to think about removing legal and political obstacles in order to allow health care entrepreneurs to propose new solutions,” summarizes Michel Kelly-Gagnon, President and CEO of the MEI.

The Economic Note entitled Health Care Entrepreneurship: Overcoming the Obstacles, prepared by Yanick Labrie, economist at the MEI, can be consulted free of charge on this website.

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The Montreal Economic Institute is an independent, non-partisan, not-for-profit research and educational organization. Through its publications, media appearances and conferences, the MEI stimulates debate on public policies in Quebec and across Canada by proposing wealth-creating reforms based on market mechanisms. It does not accept any government funding.

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Information and interview requests: Ariane Gauthier, communications coordinator, Montreal Economic Institute / Tel.: 514 273-0969 ext. 2231 / Cell: 514 603-8746 / Email: agauthier@iedm.org

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