Albertans fight for right to buy private health insurance

Two Albertans want the right to buy private insurance for essential health services such as cancer treatment or heart surgery.

The two individuals recently filed a court application, asking for an extension on a Supreme Court ruling in 2005 that saw Quebec's law prohibiting the purchase of private insurance for health services struck down.

Dr. Darcy Allen is one of two Albertans who filed the court application. The Okotoks dentist said he was motivated to do something after he had to stop practicing dentistry due to back pain.

“I was lying on the floor between patients,” Allen said. “Or you know I'd go home and lay flat on the floor. At the time my daughter was very young. It was impossible to play with her.”

Dr. Allen was told he'd have to wait five years to get surgery in Alberta. Instead of waiting, he flew to the States to have it done at a cost of $77,000.

The province later told him he could not be reimbursed because the surgery is available in Canada.

Lawyer John Carpay represents the Albertans who are pushing to bring that ruling to this province.

"We have longer waiting lists than France or Germany, Austria, Japan or Singapore,” Carpay said.

“Canada is with North Korea and Cuba as only three countries in the world that make it illegal for people to use their own money for essential health care services."

Carpay said his clients have both filed court applications to extend the 2005 Supreme Court decision to Alberta.

He expects to get a hearing later this year.