This is a must backgrounder on the private vs public Health debate . QJ
Sympatico/MSN News - CBC.ca: "Awaiting decision that could change health care in Canada
Last Updated Wed, 08 Jun 2005 22:23:59 EDT
The Supreme Court of Canada will rule Thursday on whether it's unconstitutional to prevent someone from paying for private medical care � a case that could change the face of Canadian health care.
INDEPTH: Health Care
The plaintiffs � a Montreal patient and a doctor � want the court to strike down sections of the Quebec Hospital Insurance Act that prevent people from buying health insurance for medical procedures covered by the public health plan.
The two men have separate complaints, but the court decided to hear their court challenges together.
INDEPTH: Public vs. private health care - FAQs
In 1996, Montreal businessman George Zeliotis waited a year for hip replacement surgery. While waiting, he asked whether he could purchase insurance that would allow him to skip the public queue and pay directly for the surgery.
When he learned it was against the law, he took his case to court.
Canadians can buy private health insurance for things outside of public medicare such as prescriptions, physiotherapy or private hospital rooms.
The 73-year-old Zeliotis argued the year-long wait for surgery was unreasonable, endangered his life and infringed on the charter's guarantee of right to life, liberty and security.
The second plaintiff, Dr. Jacques Chaoulli, wants the court to overturn a Quebec provision preventing doctors who don't operate within the medicare plan from charging for services in public hospitals.
Chaoulli, who had tried but failed to set up a private hospital, represented himself before the court.
Observers believe there are three likely outcomes: keep health-care delivery as it is; all"