Friday, December 12, 2008

Contrary to stereotype

Albertans support the public health care system more than the majority of Canadians do.

The study, commissioned by the U of C's School of Policy Studies, scrutinized Alberta's health-care legislation in light of what's allowed under the federal Health Act and also compared the province's approach to regulation across the country.

It found Alberta's regulations that compel physicians to operate either fully inside or outside of the public system goes beyond federal requirements; it also showed the same is true about Alberta's ban on private insurance for otherwise publicly insured services.

Still, despite the notion that Alberta could actually push the private health-care envelope further under the nation's laws, study author and health-care policy expert Gerard Boychuk said the research project found that Albertans are less receptive to private health-care overtures than Canadians on average.

"I think it corrects that misperception that Alberta is a leader in encouraging private financing for health care," said Boychuk, associate professor in the University of Waterloo political science department.

Alberta politicians have long wrestled with private-public health care, most notably with the 2001 Mazankowski report and Ralph Klein's infamous Third Way, each of which were blitzed with public opposition.

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