NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Report On "Health Care In Canada 2000"

May 16, 2000

Canadians' satisfaction with their health care system fell by more than half during the 1990s, according to new report. Thus the proportion of Canadians who thought the health care system needed only minor changes to work properly fell from 56 percent to 20 percent between 1987 and 1997.

The same report shows much of the increase in health care spending over the past few decades has been on private insurance coverage for benefits not covered by the public health care system. The report, "Health Care in Canada 2000: A First Annual Report," is published by the Canadian Institute for Health Information, a national, independent, non-profit organization set up in 1994 by Canada's health ministers. Among other findings in the report:

  • Total spending on health care in Canada increased by almost 50 percent between 1968 and 1998.
  • Canada spent almost a third of its health budget on private health care, second only to the United States among the largest industrialized countries in the proportion spent on private care.
  • For instance, almost three quarters of Canadians 12 years old and older reported private coverage for prescription drugs in 1998-9, and more than half had private insurance for dental care and spectacles or contact lenses.
  • In fact, spending on drugs rose from 9 percent of health care spending in 1979 to 15 percent in 1999, and more is now spent on drugs than on physicians' services.

Although Canada's public health insurance is supposed to provide hospital and medical services to those who need them regardless of ability to pay, lower income Canadians and those with less education were less likely to have received mammograms, cervical smears and some types of heart surgery. They were also less likely than other Canadians to have coverage of drug, dental and vision care.

Source: David Spurgeon, "Canadians Become Dissatisfied With Their Healthcare System," British Medical Journal, May 13, 2000.


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