The Evidence on Wait Times and Private Care

Canadians are hearing a great deal of confusing information about our health care system. Dr. Brian Day asserts that private care shorten wait lists and improve the system -- all the evidence indicates it will do the opposite.

  1. Australia has tried this, and found that the provision of private care did not decrease wait times; rather, in regions where private care was most often used wait times in the public sector rose.[1]
  2. In his CMAJ article, Stephen Duckett specifically finds that, while private health services slowed the pace of growth of demand in the public sector, public service demand still continued to grow, but now with diminishing access to resources to address it.[2]
  3. In a study of all OECD nations with parallel private care, researchers found that parallel private care produces longer wait times and draws resources out of the public system.[3]  They also note that shortening wait times in the pubic system is usually most successfully achieved by increasing the amount of public investment, not by increasing the amount of private investment.[4]

Evidence indicates private care will do nothing to alleviate wait times, in fact it will make it worse.

[1] Duckett SJ. 2005. “Private care and public waiting.” Australian Health Review; 29(1): 87-93.

[2] Duckett, SJ.  Private care and public waiting, CMAJ • SEPT. 27, 2005; 173 (7) 745

[3] Tuohy CH.,CM. Flood, and M. Stabile. 200. “How Does Private Finance Affect Public Health Care Systems? Marshalling the evidence from OECD Nations.” Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law. Vol. 29, no. 3, June, pp. 37-375.

Cardiac Care Network of Ontario. 2005. “About CCN.”

[4] Ibid.