NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


May 9, 2005

Rationing health care in Canada through ever-growing queues for medically necessary health services imposes direct costs on those waiting for care, says Nadeem Esmail, Manager of Health Data Systems at the Fraser Institute.

Though some will suffer health-related difficulties because of the delay in treatment, Esmail says many more will suffer financial losses and a reduced enjoyment of life while waiting because of the mental anguish and unnecessary pain and discomfort that must be endured while waiting for care. These costs are not insignificant.

Furthermore, says Esmail, these costs go unaccounted for by the bureaucrats who force the long wait times on everyone. In his study, Esmail calculated these costs using survey data from Statistics Canada:

  • In total, the estimated 815,663 Canadians waiting for treatment in 2004 waited a combined 11.3 million weeks.
  • In 2004, waiting for care in Canada cost patients waiting in the queue more than $732 million, which translates to nearly $900 per patient when averaged across all patients waiting and $9,150 per patient for the estimated 9.8 percent of patients suffering considerable hardships while waiting.
  • Valuing all hours of the week, including weekends and evenings, at the average hourly wage, without counting eight hours of sleep per night, would increase the estimated cost of waiting to over $2.2 billion, or slightly more than $2700 per person.

Considering the immense costs of waiting for care, Canadians deserve the opportunity to save themselves pain, anguish, discomfort and lost productivity by privately contracting for their care in Canada when the public health care program is unwilling to deliver the services they require in the time and in a manner that suits their individual needs, says Esmail.

Source: Nadeem Esmail, "The Private Cost of Public Queues," Fraser Institute, March 2005.


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