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[Series] Canada’s universal health-care system: achieving its potential

Access to health care based on need rather than ability to pay was the founding principle of the Canadian health-care system. Medicare was born in one province in 1947. It spread across the country through federal cost sharing, and eventually was harmonised through standards in a federal law, the Canada Health Act of 1984. The health-care system is less a true national system than a decentralised collection of provincial and territorial insurance plans covering a narrow basket of services, which are free at the point of care.

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