Public not sold on BCMA proposal for RRSP-style health care savings plan — poll

News release

There’s little public support for a B.C. Medical Association recommendation that individuals pay for future long-term care and home care expenses through RRSP-style savings programs, according to polling numbers released today by the Hospital Employees’ Union.

Instead, 78 per cent of those polled in the province-wide McIntyre & Mustel Research survey believe that Medicare should be expanded to cover home care and long-term care. Only 16 per cent favoured the BCMA’s proposal for tax-based individual health savings plans.

Implementing a tax-based savings program for future health care costs is just one of a range of proposals contained in a BCMA report released last month. The doctors’ organization also favours tax breaks for those with lower levels of health care use, higher Medical Services Plan premiums, “rationalization” of user fees and further restrictions to the scope of health services covered by Medicare.

“British Columbians recognize that our health care system is under pressure,” says HEU secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt. “But the public isn’t buying the BCMA’s argument that the solution is to transfer more of the costs of care for the elderly onto individuals and their families.

“In fact, there’s a high degree of public support for expanding Medicare to include home care and long-term care services,” adds Allnutt. “And there’s a growing body of research that shows that greater access to these services results in better health outcomes for seniors and reduces the need for more expensive emergency room visits and hospital admissions.”

Allnutt is urging the new Liberal government to resist pressure from the BCMA, the Fraser Institute and others to privatize health care services and increase user fees.

“British Columbians understand that a comprehensive, single-payer health care system is equitable and provides our economy with a critical competitive advantage,” says Allnutt. “That’s a fundamental assumption that should underpin provincial government efforts to improve the delivery of health care services.” The following question was put to 514 adult British Columbians as part of a broader ominbus telephone survey conducted between June 8th and June 14th. The results are considered accurate to within 4.4 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

The B.C. Medical Association has recommended that governments set up RRSP-type savings plans so that individuals can save and pay for future health care expenses such as long-term care and home care. Others say that Medicare should be expanded to include long-term care and home care on the same basis as surgical procedures and doctors visits. Which view is closer to your own?

  • Individual payment through RRSP-type savings 16.2

  • Covered by Medicare 77.9

  • Don’t know/refused to answer 5.9