In response to the recent Canadian Supreme Court decision striking
down the ban on private health insurance, the Wall Street
Journal noted that Canada was the only nation other than
Cuba and North Korea to have such a prohibition. However, one
other country restricts private payment for health care and
virtually forces citizens into government health insurance.
The United States!
The original Medicare law (passed in 1965) declared in Section
1802, "[F]ree choice by patient guaranteed." But this provision
was amended and seniors' freedom was limited with passage of
the Balanced Budget Act of 1997. That law included Section
4507, which penalizes physicians who accept private payment
for Medicare-covered services: any doctor who does so
must stop seeing all Medicare patients for two years. The United
Seniors Association challenged this rule in federal court, but
the judges avoided the issue, ruling only that non-covered
services could be privately paid for.
Additionally, when American workers retire at age 65 they must
enroll in Medicare Part A (hospital insurance or HI) or
forgo their Social Security benefits. So decrees Social Security
Administration policy no. HI 00801.002: "Waiver
of HI Entitlement by Monthly Beneficiary." In other words,
if seniors prefer to keep their private health insurance and
reject government coverage for hospitalization, they pay a hefty
To unsocialize Medicare the United States needs to ensure that
all seniors are free to pay privately for heath care and health
insurance without penalty for exercising their rights. Otherwise,
Americans might want to begin saving their cash for trips to
Canada to obtain private health care.
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Canadian Supreme Court Strikes Down
Ban on Private Health Insurance
A physician who challenged Quebec's prohibition on private health
insurance has won a major victory in the Canadian Supreme Court.
Dr. Jacques Chaoulli and his patient George Zeliotis argued
that the ban on buying private health insurance violates Canada's
Charter of Rights and Freedoms as well as the Quebec Charter
of Rights. On June 9 the Canadian Supreme Court ruled in favor
of Dr. Chaoulli. Four of the seven justices found that the
ban violated the Quebec Charter, but the Court was split (3-3,
with one justice abstaining) on whether the law violated the
Canada's Globe and Mail reported that "When he [Dr. Chaoulli]
undertook the legal battle against the Canada Health Act, the
medical establishment largely shunned him." (The Act established
funding for Medicare for citizens of all ages.) The article
goes on: "Dr. Chaoulli...isn't shy about putting his struggle
into grand historic terms. 'I've been in the same situation
as Gandhi, where I battled alone without financial help,' he
said in an interview. 'Gandhi believed in something and he was
alone in believing it. He was punished. No one hit me, but I
was stigmatized and humiliated, too.'"
Dr. Chaoulli is clearly a courageous individualist who has defeated
the single-payer medical and legal establishment in Canada.
Does Private Health Insurance Destroy Public Health Programs?
The case highlights the fact that most countries with public
health-insurance programs do not ban private health insurance.
The justices reviewed worldwide evidence in examining the claim
that permitting citizens to buy private health insurance would
destroy the public health-care system in Canada. Yet clearly
this is not so. Consider these excerpts from the majority Court's
- "Some witnesses asserted that the emergence of the private
sector would lead to a reduction in popular support in the long
term because the people who had private insurance would no longer
see any utility for the public plan. Dr. Howard Bergman [a
Canadian physician] cited an article in his expert report.
Dr. Theodore Marmor [an American public-policy expert and strong
proponent of the U.S. Medicare system] supported this argument
but conceded that he had no way to verify it."
- "[T]he evidence on the experience of other western democracies
with public health care systems that permit access to private
health care refutes the government's theory that a prohibition
on private health insurance is connected to maintaining quality
public health care. It does not appear that private participation
leads to the eventual demise of public health care."
- "After reviewing a number of public health care systems,
the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and
Technology concluded in the Kirby Report that far from undermining
public health care, private contributions and insurance improve
the breadth and quality of health care for all citizens, and
it ultimately concluded, at p. 66: The evidence suggests that
a contribution of direct payments by patients, allowing private
insurance to cover some services, even in publicly funded hospitals,
and an expanded role for the private sector in the delivery
of health services are the factors which have enabled countries
to achieve broader coverage of health services for all their
citizens. Some countries like Australia and Singapore openly
encourage private sector participation as a means to ensure
affordable and sustainable health services."
- "In summary, the evidence on the experience of other western
democracies refutes the government's theoretical contention
that a prohibition on private insurance is linked to maintaining
quality public health care."
- "We conclude that on the evidence adduced in this case,
the appellants have established that in the face of delays in
treatment that cause psychological and physical suffering, the
prohibition on private insurance jeopardizes the right to life,
liberty and security of the person of Canadians in an arbitrary
manner, and is therefore not in accordance with the principles
of fundamental justice."
Impact on Health Freedom
How will this case affect the Canadian health-care system and
health freedom worldwide? John Williamson of the Canadian Taxpayers
Federation stated, "This is the end of [M]edicare as we know
it. This is a breach in government monopoly health care in this
In the United States advocates of universal government health
insurance will find it more difficult to point to Canada as
a model. Opponents of that system will be able to refer to
the Chaoulli case and the referenced materials to prove that
private health insurance does not destroy public health programs.
Instead, it permits citizens to exercise their freedom of choice.
For more information, see:
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Maintaining Americans' National Sovereignty
and Access to Dietary Supplements
According to numerous organizations and national policymakers,
Americans' freedom to buy dietary supplements could soon be
threatened by international regulators. In a paper titled "Summer of '05: Critical
Time for Dietary Supplements," Suzan Walter, president of
the American Holistic Health Association, explains that the
future of dietary supplements may be determined this summer
by the Codex Alimentarius Commission. Codex was created in 1963
by the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization and
World Health Organization to set international standards for
food quality and safety, and international food trade.
U.S. Reps. Ron Paul (R-Tex.) and Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) voiced
serious concerns about Codex in a joint statement to Congress
in 2001. They stressed that Codex guidelines for international
regulations could "force the United States to adopt the same
strict regulations of dietary supplements common in European
countries such as Germany, where consumers cannot even examine
a bottle of dietary supplements without a pharmacist's permission."
Paul and DeFazio continued, "While Codex has no direct authority
to force Americans to adopt stringent regulations of dietary
supplements, we are concerned that the United States may be
forced to adopt Codex standards as a result of the United States'
status as a member of the WTO [World Trade Organization]. According
to an August 1999 report of the Congressional Research Service,
'As a member of the WTO, the United States does commit to act
in accordance with the rules of the multilateral body. It [the
United States] is legally obligated to ensure national laws
do not conflict with WTO rules.' Thus, Congress may have a legal
obligation to again change American laws and regulations to
conform with WTO rules!"
They further explain, "If Congress were to refuse to 'harmonize'
US laws according to strict Codex/WTO guidelines, a WTO 'dispute
resolution panel' could find that the United States is engaging
in unfair trade....In any such trade dispute, the scales are
tipped in favor of countries using the Codex standards because
of WTO rules presuming that a nation who has adopted Codex has
not erected an unfair trade barrier. Therefore, in a dispute
with a country that has adopted the Codex standards it is highly
probable that America would lose and be subject to heavy sanctions
unless Congress harmonized our laws with the other WTO countries.
Harmonization may be beneficial for the large corporations and
international bureaucrats that control the WTO but it would
be a disaster for American consumers of dietary supplements!"
The Liberty Committee notes that the WTO has ruled against the
United States 80 percent of the time. The Committee points
out that if the WTO forces America to adopt the Codex regulations
of foods and dietary supplements, the supplements you now take
will be available by prescription only and at a much higher
cost. The Liberty Committee is urging members of Congress
to withdraw the United States from the WTO.
It is important for you to voice your opinion about these matters.
Here are links to background information and research resources:
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Health Freedom Watch is published by the Insitute for Health Freedom. Editor: Sue Blevins; Assistant Editor: Deborah Grady. Copyright 2005 Institute for Health Freedom.