A Career Full of Notable Achievements

Published: May 11th 2010
in News » Local

Dr. Robert M. Filler

Almost everyone I speak to has been touched by Sick Kids and the tremendous support of the public both financial and otherwise is a testament to its impact on our citizens. If you ask anyone in the medical profession inside or outside of Canada, Sick Kids always rates in the top three Children Hospitals in the world. 


SL: The United States is going through some major health care changes.  Having served both in the U.S. and Canada, what do you think are the key challenges facing the U.S. in developing universal health care?


RF: One of the most important aspects of the Canadian healthcare system is that it provides universal health care. This is a key issue in the United States right now and their new healthcare bill is heading further in this direction.  I find that the single healthcare payer is very important. In the US, doctors have to abide by different rules for each of their many insurer providers. 


This is an administrative nightmare and requires the employment of many individuals who deal with the various insurance issues. The system we have in Canada is fantastic. I never had to modify a treatment or test because a patient couldn’t afford.  I could prescribe whatever was necessary without having to check with an insurance company to see if it was covered or not covered.


Most Canadians are very happy with health care here. Compared to the US, there are many pluses here, but there are some draw backs as well. In Canada, waiting lists for elective procedures are generallylonger. In the United States, if a person has the money, he or she can get whatever medical treatment they want at the drop of a hat. In my experience, emergency treatment is provided as quickly here as anywhere, certainly for those living in the large cities. The problem of access of care for those living in remote areas is real but it is no different than in the US for those who live far from medical centers.




SL: While Canada's health care is considered to be one of the best in the world, there are still those who oppose our system and would prefer a two tier system where those who want private care, and can afford it, can receive it.  Do you think this type of system could work in Canada? If so, why hasn't it been developed?


RF: Yes. I think it’s happening now. For example, there are clinics like the Cleveland Clinic in Toronto that provide what is best described as concierge service for those who are willing to pay an annual fee. This gives individuals with money the opportunity to jump the line and get faster access to care, not only for office visits, but even for some diagnostic and surgical procedures. 


OHIP pays for the actual visit so that it's a mixture of public and private medicine.  If a system can be designed that ensures that everyone is getting access and care in a timely fashion, then the person jumping the line would not necessarily be harmful.  Despite the many arguments, pro and con, I think the mood of the general population is to not have a two tier system.


That being said, in actual fact we have a two tier system. If you want to get an operation quickly, you go south of the border, put your money down and buy what you want. 



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