Rumours are that Prime Minister Christie wants the Blue Ribbon Commission (BRC) Healthcare plan to be his legacy to the Bahamian people. He would like to be remembered for a job well done.
However, he should not count on it. The BRC plan is too similar to the Canadian "plan" and will have similar outcomes. How good is Canadian Healthcare? Perhaps it is a good as it can be – as a government financed monopoly. But long waiting lists and shortages of physicians are the symptoms of a tragically flawed system.
Prior to 1962 in Canada healthcare was not rationed as it is today. The sick were not turned away from hospitals and clinics if they could not pay.
It is a different story in 2006.
The Frontiers of Freedom Institute in 2002 printed an article titled "Access Denied: Canada's Healthcare System Turns Patients Into Victims". They refer to instances where patients die on the waiting list because they become too sick to tolerate a procedure.
Their research describes shortages of doctors and shortages of equipment.
An exodus of Canadian physicians to the US is the subject of an article last year in the New England Journal of Medicine titled "The Metrics of the Physician Brain Drain" which shows that Canada is a net loser of physicians and United States a net gainer.
Research by AIM, the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies takes up the "Brain Drain" noting that "some degree of privatization" is required, that an "adequate" supply of health care requires a functioning market.
The above are only a sampling of hundreds of reports by investigators into the Canadian system. There are differences between the BRC Plan and the Canadian system, but the core principle is the same. Both are government managed and controlled.
What about the cost, and what about paying for it?
Canada is among the highest cost "developed" countries for healthcare and Canadians also are among the highest taxed citizens. CBS news in March 2005 in an article "Canadian Health Care in Crisis" writes that Ontario spends roughly 40% of every tax dollar on healthcare. By 2035 it is slated to be 85%.
Perhaps a country so rich in resources and a diversified economy can pay the price, however little Bahamas has but two main sources for income, tourism and financial services.
It doesn't take rocket science to conclude the government's plan, based on the observable facts of how it "manages" existing programs will put the country in financial risk. Should either of the two principle sources, tourism and financial services suffer downturn, the legacy of the BRC Plan will be bankruptcy.
It is not a legacy that a Prime Minister would be proud to leave.
THE NASSAU INSTITUTE