Tuesday, August 9, 2022
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Other universal health-care countries allow private health insurance—and have shorter wait times

A new study by the Fraser Institute details how Canada is one of the only high-income countries in the world that does not embrace private insurers for medically necessary care. Importantly, each of the 16 countries examined share Canada’s goal of ensuring universal access and insurance coverage for medically necessary care—and many of them have much shorter wait times than we do.

So how do they do it?

While each country, obviously, takes its own unique approach in order to best suit the needs of their residents, the approaches followed by Switzerland, the NetherlandsGermany and Australia help illustrate the range of private-sector involvement for health-care insurance.

Despite having similar goals as the Canadian system with respect to universality, both Switzerland and the Netherlands have opted to take a different path to ensure primary coverage for basic services. Swiss and Dutch residents are required to purchase insurance from private firms in a regulated (but competitive) market. Health-care expenditures are mostly financed through a combination of community-rated premium charges (paid by residents to insurers) as well as payroll taxes. Residents who do not actively purchase insurance are either automatically assigned an insurer (in Switzerland) or charged a penalty (in the Netherlands).

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