POOR VALUE FOR YOUR TAX DOLLARS

June 22, 2009

Canadian taxpayers are not receiving the same sort of value that their counterparts in other nations are when it comes to universally accessible health care, despite the fact nearly 60 per cent of personal income taxes paid in aggregate are required to cover the cost of Canada's taxpayer-funded health care program, says Nadeem Esmail, Director of Health System Performance Studies at the Fraser Institute.

For example:

  • Canadians are funding the developed world's second most expensive universal access health insurance system.
  • On an age-adjusted basis (older people require more care) in the most recent year for which comparable data are available, only Iceland spent more on universal access health insurance system than Canada as a share of gross domestic product (GDP), while Switzerland spent as much as Canada.
  • The other 25 developed nations who maintain universal health insurance programs spent less than we did; as much as 38 percent less as a percentage of GDP in the case of Japan.

With that level of expenditure, you might expect that Canadians receive world-class access to health care.  The evidence finds this is not so, says Esmail.

Consider the case of waiting lists:

  • In 2008, the median wait time from general practitioner referral to treatment by a specialist was 17.3 weeks in Canada.
  • Despite substantial increases in both health spending and federal cash transfers to the provinces for health care over the last decade or so, that wait time was 45 per cent longer than the overall median wait time of 11.9 weeks in 1997.
  • It was 86 per cent longer than the overall median wait time of 9.3 weeks in 1993.

That is hardly the sort of access you might expect from the developed world's second most expensive universal access health insurance system, says Esmail.

Source: Nadeem Esmail, "Poor Value For Your Tax Dollars; Canada's Health Care System Doesn't Measure Up," Fraser Institute, June 2009.

 

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