I was amazed to read this article in the Denver Post – Debunking Canadian health care myths. The author claims to have lived in Canada 17 years ago, but clearly has no idea of the current situation. I’ve lived in both the United States and Canada in the last 10 years and I can state clearly that she doesn’t know what she’s talking about.
Overall, Canada’s taxes are slightly higher than those in the U.S. However, Canadians are afforded many benefits for their tax dollars, even beyond health care (e.g., tax credits, family allowance, cheaper higher education), so the end result is a wash. At the end of the day, the average after-tax income of Canadian workers is equal to about 82 percent of their gross pay. In the U.S., that average is 81.9 percent.
Actually, the after-tax income of Canadian workers is a little closer to about 52% of their gross pay, including our new healthcare tax in Ontario, and US workers are often paid more for the same job. When I moved to the US, I had my HR department calculate my take-home pay three times because I didn’t believe it could be so high.
More than 31 percent of every dollar spent on health care in the U.S. goes to paperwork, overhead, CEO salaries, profits, etc. The provincial single-payer system in Canada operates with just a 1 percent overhead.
1% overhead huh? Actually it’s closer to 17%. I currently live in Waterloo, Canada, where we are paying a former hospital CEO two years severance (about $750,000) after he was let go for not doing his job, while we pay the current CEO a similar amount. We have local health network bureaucracies that tell the hospitals how they may spend their money. We block fund hospitals and don’t allow deficits, meaning that their goal is to limit serving patients rather than treat more so as to conserve money. And there is out and out bureaucratic waste.
While HMOs and other private medical insurers in the U.S. do indeed make such decisions, the only people in Canada to do so are physicians. In Canada, the government has absolutely no say in who gets care or how they get it. Medical decisions are left entirely up to doctors, as they should be.
There are no waits for urgent or primary care in Canada. There are reasonable waits for most specialists’ care, and much longer waits for elective surgery.
If you are fortunate enough to have a family doctor, you will probably wait a week or two for an appointment. An ER visit will be a minimum 9 hour wait. My wife had a car accident a year ago and she is still waiting for an appointment with an orthopedic specialist. Wait times are a chronic problem.
Most physicians in Canada are self-employed. They are not employees of the government nor are they accountable to the government. Doctors are accountable to their patients only.
No they are not employees of the government. It isn’t clear who they are accountable to. The amount they bill to the government is capped, so there is now a multitude of administrative fees, such as $20 to renew a prescription, or $100 to have your medical records forwarded to another doctor. Oh that’s right, in Canada you do not own your medical records. A while ago a local clinic closed and patients were forced to pay hundreds of dollars to get access the their medical records.
From a purely statistical standpoint, there are enough physicians in Canada to meet the health care needs of its people. But most doctors practice in large urban areas, leaving rural areas with bona fide shortages.
That would be funny if it weren’t so sad. 16% of Canadians do not have a family doctor. We live in a community of 500,000, 45 minutes outside of Toronto – hardly rural – and we just got a doctor when an office opened up that was taking patients. Even then, the doctors won’t take patients who are too ill, and generally forbid you from visiting any other clinic while you are a patient. As a result of not having doctors, our emergency rooms are perenially overcrowded.
Ten percent of Canada’s GDP is spent on health care for 100 percent of the population. The U.S. spends 17 percent of its GDP but 15 percent of its population has no coverage whatsoever and millions of others have inadequate coverage.
She’s got me there, but that 10.6% only pays about 71% of the cost. And yes everyone is covered, but wait times to see specialists and for procedures can be extreme.
There are substantial differences between the American and Canadian systems. Yes it would be ideal if everyone was covered, but not if it results in a slow bureaucratic system with underserviced areas and long wait times. A clear and rational analysis is necessary.
But misinformation such as this article serves no one.