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Provincial election campaign – To the different political parties, the MEI proposes six reform ideas for a universal and efficient health care system

Montreal, Thursday, March 13, 2014 – In the province of Quebec, endless lines are now the defining characteristic of the health care system. Public health care spending reached nearly $4,000 per capita in 2013. But despite more and more resources being devoted to it over the years, the results achieved by the public health care system are far from satisfactory.

In his most recent budget, Finance Minister Nicolas Marceau presented a proposal for reforming the public funding of hospitals so that “the money follows the patient.” The Coalition Avenir Québec is also promising “activity-based hospital funding.” As for the Quebec Liberal Party, it is committing itself to creating a web portal where patients “will be able to see and compare the wait times for each medical specialist before proceeding to treatment.”

While these different proposals from the three main parties are steps in the right direction, we still have a long way to go before we have a quality health care system comparable to those of other industrialized countries, according to a Research Paper published today by the Montreal Economic Institute. Based on an exhaustive examination of over 250 studies of health care policies and reform examples from around the world, the MEI is proposing six concrete ideas for reforming Quebec’s health care system.

Overview of the six proposed reforms

1) Promote freedom of choice for patients and competition between care providers;
2) Promote the emergence of a true private hospital market;
3) Increase funding for health care through duplicate private health insurance;
4) Allow mixed practice in order to increase the supply of medical specialists;
5) Fund hospitals based on services rendered;
6) Make the publication of hospital performance indicators mandatory.

Taking inspiration from the experiences of countries with social-democratic traditions like Germany, England, Denmark, France and Italy, the MEI demonstrates that incorporating elements of competition and freedom of choice into a health care system can lead to substantial improvements in performance without compromising universality of care. “Practically all OECD countries have enacted market solutions to reform their health care systems, and these reforms have brought significant benefits in terms of improving wait times and service quality,” says Yanick Labrie, the author of the study.

“A mixed public-private health care system is the norm in nearly all OECD countries. Canada is the exception. No other country imposes as many restrictions on its people. Decisions makers have in their hands the proof that market solutions work in the field of health care, and they have run out of excuses when it comes to preventing the necessary reforms,” concludes Michel Kelly-Gagnon, President and CEO of the Montreal Economic Institute.

The Research Paper entitled “For a Universal and Efficient Health Care System – Six Reform Proposals” was prepared by Yanick Labrie, associate researcher at the Montreal Economic Institute. This publication is available on our website.

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

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Interview requests: Mariam Diaby, Communications Director, Montreal Economic Institute / Tel.: 514-273-0969 ext. 2231 / Cell.: 514-668-3063 / Email: mdiaby@iedm.org

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