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Health Policy. 2005 Jun;72(3):367-79. Epub 2004 Dec 8.

Medical savings accounts and the Canada Health Act: complimentary or contradictory.

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  • 1IWK Health Centre, Faculty of Medicine, Dalhousie University, 5850/5980 University Avenue, PO Box 3070, Halifax, NS, Canada B3J 3G9.


The publicly funded health system in Canada, almost since inception, has been the focus of numerous critiques, matched only by the solutions offered, and the secondary problems generated. One of the proposed solutions is the use of medical savings accounts (MSAs). It is reasoned that MSAs will make Canadians more accountable for the health services they utilize, yield cost containment, and potential savings. However, before a nation-wide, public MSA can be considered further, there is need to reconcile the following: (a) empirical evidence in support of MSAs that is not as compelling as some of its proponents argue; (b) the scale and complexity of a MSA if integrated into a publicly funded, nation-wide health system in a country the size of Canada; (c) whether the cost to formulate, implement, and operate a nation-wide Canadian MSA would yield the net gains to warrant such an expenditure; (d) the fact that implementation of a nation-wide MSA potentially may contravene the Canada Health Act.

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