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Albertans Support Private Health Care Services More Than Other Canadians

Calgary, January 21, 2013—Alberta is the only part of Canada where half the population would welcome increased private delivery of health care services, according to a survey conducted by EKOS Research Associates for The Conference Board of Canada’s Canadian Alliance for Sustainable Health Care.

Many publicly funded health care services already are delivered through private enterprises, but Canadians were asked if they believe that allowing more private delivery would improve health care in Canada (by encouraging the public sector to become more efficient and relieving pressure on the public organizations), or whether they felt that this would worsen health care (by diverting limited resources from the public system).

This is an image which represents private healthcareIn Alberta, 48 per cent of respondents agreed with the statement that prospect of private delivery of health care services could improve efficiency and reduce wait times, while 48 per cent said that allowing private services will cause the public system to deteriorate. 

Nationally, 60 per cent of respondents believe that allowing private services will cause the public system to deteriorate and only 36 per cent of respondents were supportive of increased private care delivery. 

“Private health care encompasses many different ideas, including out-of-pocket payments for services and health care services delivered by private practitioners, clinics and other institutions. These results show that private delivery of health care is still contentious in the country,” said Louis Thériault, Director, Health Economics. “Albertans appear more open to the idea than the rest of Canada.”

Opposition to increased private health care service delivery exceeded 60 per cent in each of Ontario, Quebec and the Atlantic provinces, and reached 56 per cent in British Columbia and the Territories and 55 per cent in Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

Nationally, support for some private delivery of health services is higher among men than women. Support for private delivery increases as income rises. While only 25 per cent of respondents making $20,000 or less supported increased private delivery, 43 per cent of those making $100,000 or more approved of it.

EKOS Research Associates conducted the study to update and refine our understanding of Canadian views on health and the health care system. The methodology for this study involved a nationally representative survey of 2,036 Canadians 18 years of age and older. In May 2012, EKOS surveyed 534 Canadians by telephone and 1,502 respondents completed the survey online. The sample source for this study was members of the EKOS panel, which was specifically designed for online/telephone surveys.

The study was supported by the Canadian Medical Association, Accreditation Canada and the Conference Board’s Canadian Alliance for Sustainable Health Care (CASHC). Launched in 2011, CASHC is a five-year Conference Board program of research and dialogue. It will delve deeply into facets of Canada’s health care challenge, including the financial, workplace, and institutional dimensions, in an effort to develop forward-looking qualitative and quantitative analysis and solutions to make the system more sustainable.

As part of the CASHC initiative, the Conference Board is hosting the Western Summit on Sustainable Health in Edmonton on May 22-23. 

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