NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


May 27, 2009

For the second time in less than two weeks, the Canadian public health care system has flunked an international comparison test, says the Health Consumer Powerhouse (HCP), a research organization. Canada's health care system ranks 23rd among 32 nations surveyed for quality, access and innovation.

The second annual Euro-Canada Health Consumer Index measures patients' rights and information, waiting times for treatment, outcomes, the range and reach of services provided and access to pharmaceuticals.  Out of the 1,000 points available, the Index ranked countries in the following manner:

  • The Netherlands was in the top spot with 824 points.
  • Austria was second with 813 points.
  • Luxembourg and Denmark took third and fourth place with 795 and 794 points, respectively.
  • Germany came in fifth with 769 points.
  • Canada placed 23rd with a score of just 549 points.

According to researchers, wait times to see a doctor and receive treatment dragged the Canadian ranking toward the bottom:

  • Patients were waiting between 3-15 months for treatment, when they could have received the same quality of care in Germany, France or the Netherlands in two weeks.
  • While Canada is one of the highest per capita spenders on health care, patients don't get much for their money.
  • On the so-called "bang for the buck scale," that measured health care results for the number of dollars spent, Canada ranks dead.

Moreover, the Canadian system is in some respects held hostage by vested interests, such as public sector unions, say researchers.  Some of these groups like to attach themselves to one method of service delivery, and they become religious about it.  They become kind of fundamentalists about public health care delivery, as opposed to saying how can we do it like Europe, and have a variety of service providers.

Source: Mike McCourt, "Canadian health care earns dismal finish in international ranking," Metro News, May 26, 2009; based upon: Arne Björnberg and Daniel Eriksson, " Euro-Canada Health Consumer Index 2009," Health Consumer Powerhouse and The Frontier Centre for Public Policy, 2009.

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