HOW GOOD IS CANADIAN HEALTH CARE?

January 8, 2007

When compared to other Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) countries that have publicly funded, universal access health care systems, evidence suggests that the Canadian model is inferior, say the authors of a new Fraser Institute study.

Consider:

  • Estimates indicate that Canada spends more on health care than all OECD nations with "universal access" health care systems save Iceland.
  • Canada does not rank first in any of the seven health care outcome categories or in any of the comparisons of access to care, supply of technologies, or supply of physicians.
  • Canada is the only country in the industrialized world that outlaws a parallel private health care system for its citizens.

On an age-adjusted basis, Canada has among the fewest number of physicians in the OECD:

  • Canada ranks 24th out of 28 countries with 2.3 doctors per 1,000 people for a total of 66,583 doctors; only Turkey, Japan, the United Kingdom and Finland have fewer doctors.
  • To be comparable to first-place Iceland, Canada would need 57,071 more doctors than it had in 2003.
  • In 1970, when public insurance first fully applied to physician services, Canada placed second among the countries that could be ranked in that year.

The overwhelming evidence is that, in comparative terms, the Canadian system produces longer waiting times, and is less successful in preventing death from preventable causes, and costs more than almost all of the other systems that have comparable objectives.  To improve on this underperformance, say the authors, the system needs to emulate the more successful models of universal care -- such as allowing privately funded purchases and private medicine.   

Source: Nadeem Esmail and Michael Walker, "How Good Is Canadian Health Care? 2006 Report," Fraser Institute, December 2006.

 

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