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B.C. voters put medical services in the spotlight

A woman receives a flu vaccine shot. Alberta’s health-care inquiry heard testimony Monday that paperwork was fudged and that Calgary Flames players and their families were directed to lie in order to cover up the team receiving fast-tracked pandemic flu shots at a private clinic in 2009.


The health-care system fell under the close scrutiny of our undecided voters panel this week. Panelists discussed the pros and cons of the provincially run system and what should be done about it. What follows is an edited summary of their online conversation.

There is going to have to be fundamental change to the system for it to be sustainable long term. To be clear, I'm not at all advocating for a user-pay model, but we do need significant changes. I long to hear politicians speak of prevention as a priority! Increasing the investment we make in prevention, and spending money on and committing to getting our population active, is going to lessen the burden on our system over time. Don Rinald, Nanaimo

The [Medical Services Plan] premium is a regressive tax because it places the highest burden on low-income households that do not qualify for premium assistance. The cost-benefit linkage of the MSP premium is also very low, which can lead to excessive use of the health-care system. I suggest that we have a mixture of a progressive premium model that correlates with income and a user fee that charges a small amount whenever an individual accesses the health care system, up to a maximum amount. Most people consider the health-care system as "free," but it is not. Kevin Fung, Vancouver

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I actually think our health-care system is really, really good, and we're awfully lucky to have it. Yes, it's expensive. Yes, it's not particularly efficient. But we get virtually on-demand health care at every level for no out-of-pocket cost. That's amazing! Jill Bryant, Victoria

I'm all for increasing the health-care budget as long as we get more doctors, nurses, clinics, hospitals and equipment and not just increase the salaries of medical staff and bureaucrats. David Rumsey, Salt Spring Island

I think Canada should consider putting health care under federal jurisdiction instead of a provincial jurisdiction. We can centralize some parts of the system, like a centralized personal health record system. Stephen Fung, Vancouver

I feel that we should have a two-tiered system. For most, nothing would ever change unless you were making enough money to go to the private clinics. Doctors could come together to specialize in a field, like cancer, where you could go for your treatment and some of the costs would be paid out of your B.C. Medical. Chris Pond, Summerland

I believe British Columbia is one of the best places in the world to have a sudden, serious illness or accident. Immediate care is second to none and faultless, in my opinion. It is, however, one of the worst places to have a lingering malady, as it can take forever for a patient to work their way through the labyrinthine system. I don't feel like any particular party is paying much more than lip service to the issue at this time. Scott Guthrie, Victoria

Our province seems to do very little to focus on mental illness in B.C. We see mental illness at all levels, from teenagers tragically taking their own lives to the homeless populations wandering the streets in need of help. The B.C. government needs to treat this issue with the respect, dignity, and most of all, funding, it deserves. Justin Watt, Nanaimo

I do feel that health is somewhat of a personal responsibility, in that it's personal responsibility to eat well, exercise and to strive for a balanced mind. Elizabeth Williams, Kelowna

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The main problems I see are access to primary care and access to tests when it's a case of preventive care or early detection. Which is cheaper: treating me once I have the disease and I'm another six months further advanced because it took so long for the test, or catching it early? Lisa Fisher, Vancouver

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