John Carpay seen here while running for the Wildrose party in the Alberta election in April 2012. He is trying to allow private medical insurance.
Credits: AL CHAREST/QMI AGENCY
CALGARY - Banning private health care is akin to preventing individual car ownership, a Calgary lawyer who will fight to allow private medical insurance said Tuesday.
John Carpay, who has launched legal action on behalf of two Albertans who paid for surgery in the U.S., said Canadians should be allowed to be insured and have such procedures done at home.
Carpay is relying on a Supreme Court decision in a Quebec case to argue the only way to get rid of health-care waiting lists in Alberta is to allow private insurance.
"The court ruled governments can't have people suffering in pain on waiting lists," he said outside the Calgary Courts Centre. "A waiting list is not access to health care."
One of his clients, Dr. Darcy Allen, turned to a Montana surgeon to repair two bulging discs in his back.
"His choices were to continue suffering (while waiting for surgery in Canada)...or get surgery outside of the country," Carpay said.
Allen paid more than $77,000 to get the procedure done in a timely fashion, the lawyer said.
Carpay is challenging the section of the Alberta Health Care Insurance Act that prohibits individuals from getting private health-care coverage.
"Governments have created a virtual monopoly over health care and it violates peoples' rights," he said.
He said reimbursing Allen and his other client - Richard Cross, who paid $24,236 for surgery in Arizona - is "a Band-Aid solution."
Instead, Carpay said, allowing private insurance would permit doctors in Canada to perform procedures they're currently not doing because of the health-care model in place.
"That's money that could be spent and should be spent at home here in Canada," he said.
"Other than Korea and Cuba, nobody's following the Canadian model of banning private health care."
Carpay hopes to have his arguments heard in court later this year, or early in 2013.