Saturday, May 28, 2005

Canadian Health Savings Accounts?

Health savings accounts are interesting vehicles that have the purported benefit of encouraging more accountability on the part of patients when accessing the health care system. There are certainly pros and cons to these, but as a whole I feel they are probably beneficial. They clearly eliminate the "$10 copay and I can see anybody I want" attitude that crowds our EDs and primary care offices with patients who really don't need to see a physician. However, HSAs have really not taken off well in the US (yet), and they have been attacked by our more liberal politicians as being bad for the system.

Now it seems that Canada is toying with the idea of allowing HSAs. This is an interesting turn of events, and illustrates that the utopian idea of unfettered, free universal access to health care is not panning out to be financially viable. Most American physicians do not want a Canadian style system here, and clearly those who practice close to the Canadian border see many patients who do not want to wait for their delayed care to the north. This public development should give pause to those who advocate a government run system in the USA --- are you listening, AMA?