Thursday, June 9, 2005
Canada’s top court has struck down Quebec’s bans on private health care insurance, citing an increased risk to the life and health of Canadians. 
The Supreme Court of Canada ruling looked into a patient’s right to pay for faster service in a system that currently treats patients on the basis of equal access to medical care, regardless of income. 
Quebec patient George Zeliotis, a chemical salesman who waited in pain for more than a year in 1997 to have his hip replaced, said he should have had the right to pay for surgery.
Under public health care, it’s forbidden to pay for services covered under the system.
Despite free medical treatment, there are often long waiting lists for operations and services with current public health care.
Together with physician, Dr. Jacques Chaoulli, Mr. Zeliotis launched a challenge to the Supreme Court of Canada, after losing their fight in Quebec’s lower courts, arguing that having to wait for surgery violates a patient’s constitutional right to life, liberty, and security of the person. 
Mr. Zeliotis and Dr. Chaoulli argued that being able to pay for private medical services wouldn’t be detrimental to the public health care system.
The Quebec Superior Court and the Quebec Court of Appeal had dismissed the case, ruling that the provincial law’s intent was not to discriminate among patients and to provide health care based on need rather than a patient’s ability to pay.
The Canadian Medical Association said the Superior Court of Canada ruling could “fundamentally change the health-care system in Canada as we now know it” but declined to comment any further until it had time to study the decision.