A Look into Canadian Health Care

October 17, 2013

Addressing the naïve and misleading allusion to the idea of timely access to "free," high quality health care in Canada, is important -- especially for those relying on it for support of the status quo in Canada or in support of arguments to adopt a Canadian-style health care system elsewhere, says Bacchus Barua, a senior economist with the Fraser Institute.

To begin, health care in Canada is anything but free. The average Canadian family of two parents with two children pays approximately $11,320 in taxes for hospital and physician care through the country's tax system.

Next is the question of the scope and timeliness of medical services provided in exchange for this substantial expenditure.

  • Canada actually has fewer medical resources (physicians, beds and diagnostic imaging scanners, for example), and performs fewer medical interventions than its American and European counterparts.
  • In fact, Canada has one of the lowest physician-to-population ratios in the developed world. Add fixed hospital budgets and the monopolization of health insurance by the government, and you get a universal access health care system that also fails to provide access to services in atimely manner.
  • Even worse, Canada's waiting lists are among the longest in the developed world. A recent survey by the Commonwealth Fund revealed that Canadians were most likely to wait four months or more for elective surgery.

What about prescription coverage?

  • Public drug plansonly coveredabout a quarter of the new drugs approved for sale in Canada between 2004 and 2010.
  • Private drug plans, meanwhile, covered more than three-quarters of the same set of new drugs.

Source: Bacchus Barua, "Hate to (Br)eak it to You Walt, But it's Pretty (Ba)d in Canada, Too," The American, October 11, 2013.

 

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