Medicare needs service changes to survive

Globe and Mail public health reporter André Picard says Canada’s health insurance system needs to expand services outside of the hospital doors.

By: Evan McIntyre

Canada’s health insurance system needs to expand services outside of hospital doors.

Canada's health system needs to meet more patients where they live, says Andre Picard of the Globe and Mail (Evan MacIntyre Photo)

“I find that Canadians, as much as they love their Medicare program, are shockingly ignorant about it,” Andre Picard told the audience at Dalhousie’s Scotiabank Auditorium on February 29.


The topic was, Medicare: Can it survive 25 more years? It was hosted by the Public Policy Forum and Dalhousie University.

Picard, the Globe and Mail’s health reporter, had a positive message overall. He believes that Canadian Medicare can and must survive the next quarter decade, but not without some changes in service.

“This insurance program, Medicare, is funding a health system that has a lot of flaws. It’s a system that’s expensive, not particularly efficient, not safe enough, and it’s profoundly undemocratic…the system is built around providers,” said Picard.

In his research, Picard looked at practices in both the public and private sector and found that expanding health services outside of the hospital would be beneficial.

“Every patient needs an entry point into the medical system, and someone to co-ordinate their care. Today in our health system we don’t have a front door, we have the default front door, the emergency room”

He noted that helping to improve one’s general quality of life would also likely increase their quality of health.

“We have to care for people where they live” he said, noting that such a preventative system would likely reduce costs in the long run as well.

“Our challenge is to let Medicare thrive and survive” he said, “not by clinging pathetically to the status quo, but by allowing it to change and adapt.”

Picard Speaks on the Future of Canadian Medicare