NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

The Sorry Plight of Canada's Socialized Health-Care System

September 3, 2002

In Canada, health care is a state monopoly -- socialized medicine called "universal care" -- that has developed a deservedly bad reputation, observers say.

A new study from the Vancouver-based Fraser Institute documents the system's failures:

  • Despite spending more money per capita than any other country with a similar system, Canadian health care ranks on a par with that of Turkey, Hungary and Poland.
  • Canada ranks 18th in access to MRIs, 17th in access to CT scanners, eighth in access to radiation machines and 13th in access to lithotripters, which are used for treating kidney stones.
  • Canadians do somewhat better in terms of health-treatment outcomes -- but that is due in part to their option to come to the U.S. for services that would be unavailable or dangerously delayed at home.
  • All of the countries that beat Canada in outcomes have parallel systems of private health insurance and care delivery operating alongside the government system.

In another survey, 6 in 10 Canadians told the Canadian Medical Association they expect the quality of care to worsen over the next five years.

Canada is often held up as a model of universal health care the U.S. should emulate by lobbies such as Families USA and politicians who seem set on socializing health care. For example, the Senate refused to add a drug benefit to Medicare because Democrats insisted it be provided through the Health Care Financing Administration -- which some observers call the worst bureaucracy in the world.

At the same time, liberals oppose reforms that would aid those without insurance, such as relief from costly insurance mandates, or equalizing the tax treatment of employer-provided and patient-purchased policies.

Source: Editorial, "Woe, Canada," Wall Street Journal, September 3, 2002.


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