UNIVERSALITY OF COVERAGEIntroduction The principles and criteria governing health insurance plans are outlined by the Canada Health Act (CHA) which was developed to help territories and provinces meet their health care provision requirements. The CHA stipulates other four basic principles in addition to the universality of coverage; accessibility, comprehensiveness, portability and non-profit public administration. All these principles have on objective-to offer affordable but readily available medical services for all Canadians wherever they are in the country. This paper will deal only with the universality of coverage principle in terms of a brief description of the principle, challenges and benefits that can arise as a result of maintaining this principle.
It will also look at the impacts of abandoning the principle. Finally, it will provide a case study on the same principle if maintained. Overview The national health insurance program in Canada is designed to ensure that all Canadians have equal access to medical facilities. In the last two decades, it was recommended that instead of a single national plan to enhance the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of all health care policies, it was seen necessary to have about thirteen interlocking insurance plans for all the territorial and provincial governments.
These thirteen insurance plans have common features that govern health care systems in the country i. e. the principles of Medicare system This principle-universality of coverage- advocates for provision of Medicare to all Canadians regardless of their financial status or condition i. e. without any terms and conditions whatsoever. It is possible that some people may be isolated because of their economic status in private hospitals meaning that only the rich have access to health better health care.
In the past, depending on ones ability to meet medical expenses, most people opted to seek for cheaper health care services. With the introduction of the CHA Act, the principle has been able to provide some form of equality for all Canadians. This principle protects all Canadians, whether they are in their country or those traveling abroad. It helps to ensure that through hospital insurance, all people who are insured are given equal opportunities in their regions of origin. The residents of particular provinces are given the opportunity to seek medical services in all the Medicare centers within the locality.
Challenges and benefitsThe federal government is becoming increasingly concerned about the amount of finances being dedicated to the health care sector thereby consuming a high proportion of the GDP. Some provinces in an attempt to minimize spiraling costs of health care services is applying cost-cutting measures to meet the challenges experienced at the sector. This is because the principle cannot be implemented without enough funds keeping in mind the fact that health care services are becoming more and more expensive all over the world. The federal government has been partially meeting large health care costs for most provinces, despite the fact that it is considered the responsibility of the provincial administration to do so.
The main challenge therefore is that, to ensure that this principle is upheld, huge amounts of money has been used and it has not been possible to maintain it. An example for this is the large budget shortfall that hit the country in 1996 leading to the reduction of federal influence in the financing of the health care system in the provinces.
The provinces have been therefore under considerable amounts of tension and pressures to meet the requirements of universal accessibility of health services to all.