“Free” Canadian healthcare.

Whenever I’m talking to my American friends about healthcare, the subject of free healthcare in Canada always comes up. I usually say that yes, it is free, IF you can get it. Waiting lists for care are long, there are fewer physicians, and far less technology like MRIs and CT scanners.

This of course neglects the fact that in many states, including Massachusetts, hospitals cannot turn patients away, regardless of ability to pay. It also neglects the fact that not all ¬†healthcare in Canada is free; the government chooses what is covered and what is not. My wife paid $765 out of pocket for an eye specialist appointment the other day. Eye exams aren’t covered for most people either. And prescriptions and dental aren’t covered either

Apparently though, despite the fact that the care is free, it still costs real money. A LOT of real money:

Canadians, having just paid their taxes, may take some solace that some of that money goes to funding a world-class healthcare system. Unfortunately, Canadians are not receiving the same sort of value that their counterparts in other nations are when it comes to universally accessible health care. This despite the fact some 68% of personal income taxes paid in aggregate are required to cover the cost of health care in this country. Canadians spend much more for their health care, and receive lower quality care than other countries with universal-access systems.

So if you want to idolize a healthcare system, Canada’s probably isn’t the one. There are many other countries that deliver excellent care far more affordably.

But it does go to show you, just because you don’t get a bill, it doesn’t mean that the care if free. Somebody always pays.

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