Here are some frequently asked questions, and our answers. If you need more information, please contact us!
Q: What is a health co-op?
A: Any co-op that addresses one of the social determinants of health as its primary function or as part of a larger scope of work.
Q: What are some examples of the work of health co-ops.
A: Each is unique. Some provide insurance coverage for health care. Most, certainly in Canada, provide services. Across the country the wide range covers ambulance and emergency services, home care, support for families of persons with disabilities, employment support for persons with barriers to employment, culturally appropriate wellness and health services and support in accessing services, community wellness outreach, health centres.
Q: If we start a health co-op, how do we accommodate a range of interests?
A: General membership is the ideal way to ensure that all voices are given equal respect. Specific issues faced by different groups of members, for example families with young children, people focused on maintain optimal wellness, people with mobility issues, health care professionals, volunteers, fund-raisers, etc can be well addressed through committees. In rare situations, and of course, only when it is permitted in the legislation, there may be logic in using a multi-stakeholder form of organization.
Q: What makes health co-ops different from other wellness and health service providers?
A: As co-ops are formed to meet the needs of their members (their owners) they focus on the priorities of those member-owners. These are different in every community but frequently include both services to the members and to the wider community. Health co-ops aim to provide the best possible services, treat all workers (whether or not they are members) fairly and reinvest any surplus in carrying out the work of the co-op. Creating profit is not an aim.
Q: Why would I join a health co-op?
A: To have a greater voice, through community mobilization, in the health services available in your community. To ensure that all funds available are devoted to providing the needed services, not to creating revenue for individuals only focused on profit. To be an owner. To serve your community.
Q: Why do so many health co-ops focus on wellness, prevention of illness and accidents?
A: This approach helps members and communities to minimize the anguish and costs of illness and medical treatment. It fosters sustainable self-care and care for community without relying on costly health professionals.
Q: Do health co-ops provide Primary Health Care, and what is it?
A: Many do. Primary health care is the day-to-day care needed to protect, maintain or restore health. For most people, it is the first point of contact with the health care system.
Q: Are Health Co-ops new?
A: There have been health co-ops in Canada for over 50 years, and even longer around the world.
Q: What do health care co-ops mean for health care in Canada?
A: Conventional health does not meet the needs of the all Canadians. Many underprivileged or remote areas lack adequate health services. Many Canadians feel that the conventional model of health care discourages individual self-responsibility and results in dependency and higher costs. The co-op model inspires individuals to support their own wellness and health care and the health of their communities. Co-ops are member and community-centred and focus on providing services to all people in need of them, without discrimination.
Q: Do health co-ops charge for services covered by the Canada Health Act?
A: No, that would be illegal.
Q: Do health co-ops provide services that are not covered by the Canada Health Act?
A: Many do. Some provide a range of additional services to their members and to the wider community. These may include some or all of the following:
- Youth programs and clinics (anger management, career programs, cooking skills, counseling, life skills workshops, mentorship, sports and recreation, human rights groups, general medical care , emergency contraception, birth control, pregnancy tests and options, Pap and STI tests ,etc.)
- Diabetes education and support
- Lifestyle counseling (diet, exercise and mobility, smoking cessation) and health education
- Flu shot clinics
- Reproductive care and counseling and parenting programs and childcare
- Community programs (financial workshops, job preparation, healthy eating, resource centres)
- The Hans Kai program for self-monitoring of health indicators in a context or peer-to-peer support.
Q: What kinds of communities and groups benefit from co-op health and home care?
A: Health and home care co-ops air to serve all who need them, especially those who wish for a great voice in the services available in their communities and those who are vulnerable or marginalized such as:
- New Canadians and refugees (issues with language and culture are barriers to access)
- Unemployed persons (no benefits, insubstantial income)
- The lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender-queer* (LGBTQ*) population
- Aboriginal communities, women, seniors and those with chronic illnesses and/or disabilities