NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


December 16, 2004

The Japanese health care system is one of the best universal access health care systems in the world, according to Nadeem Esmail of the Canada-based Fraser Institute.

Even though the Canadian government spends more on health care (9.4 percent of gross domestic product) than Japan (7.8 percent), health outcomes and access do not compare favorably. For example:

  • Japan ranked second and first, respectively, for infant and prenatal mortality among 28 Organization for Economic Development and Cooperation countries, while Canada ranked 16th and 12th, respectively.
  • Canadians waited 17.9 weeks on average for treatment from medical specialists in 2004, while the Japanese did not and do not wait for health services.

The Japanese have been successful because their system incorporates more competition, through the presence of private providers, and better economic incentives for hospitals, says Esmail. Unlike Canada, Japan also uses cost-sharing, with patients subject to co-payments of between 20 and 30 percent.

Source: Nadeem Esmail, "Look to Japan on Health," Fraser Forum, November 2004.


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