HEALTHCARE CO-OPERATIVES: BRING BACK THE OLD

Posted on in General

About a decade ago, I was at a dinner for various  managers of co-operatives.  There was an old timer sitting next to me at dinner. He had been a farmer.

When he found out that I was a medical doctor, he told me about how he and a group of neighbouring farmers had formed a health care co-operative. This was in the 1940’s.

This was how the farmers and their family members were able to hire and pay  for a family doctor.  The co-operative worked well to ensure that services were available when they were needed.

The next big change in healthcare delivery in Ontario was the formation of PSI or Physicians Services Incorporated. This was a private insurance type scheme started by doctors. PSI charged families a modest monthly or annual premium. Then it paid the doctors for their services. Surprisingly, it was very successful and ran at a surplus.

In fact, when it was disbanded in the early 1960’s to make way for medicare, it was left with a large sum of money which has been used to fund research.

The history of healthcare co-operatives has been interesting. In Spain, a healthcare co-operative became a large insurance company that now owns many hospitals. In Canada, other healthcare co-operatives have either closed or have morphed into insurance companies.

Maybe it is time to bring back healthcare co-operatives. They might be just the thing to renew the healthcare sector.