One of the key aspects of human efficiency is making decisions based on facts, data, and nonideological logic. This is a critical aspect of having an efficient government and political system. In this post, we will continue to look at the true story behind health care in the U.S.
Being that Canada is right on our northern border, whenever the discussion of health care comes up people immediately begin to compare what we have to what they have in Canada. And this is a good starting point but given that almost all other developed countries have a universal coverage health system, there are a lot of examples for us to use as a model.
Canadians pay about half of what we pay for health coverage, which is in line with most other systems. Out of 11 industrial countries, a study by the Commonwealth Fund ranked Canada just above the U.S. system which was ranked the lowest of the eleven. So, Canada is not the best country to use as a benchmark for a system to copy but it is still better and much cheaper than ours. It will serve as a good starting comparison.
Universal health care was first adapted in Canada in the 1960’s but operates under the Canada Health Act of 1984. It is provincially-based. Some key points about the Canadian system are summarized in the follow points:
- There is no need for persons to be involved in billing.
- There are no deductibles and co-pays are extremely low or non-existent. There are no lifetime limits.
- Costs are paid through funding from income taxes.
- Virtually all essential basic care is covered.
- Coverage not impacted by pre-existing conditions or changing jobs.
- It does not cover prescription drugs or dental care. Most Canadians pay for these out-of-pocket or through private insurance.
- General practitioners are chosen by individuals.
The Canadian system is much more efficient with doctors in Ontario spending $22,205 (2012 costs) dealing with agencies. In the U.S., doctors spent $82,975 dealing with insurance. Canada has a record number of doctors and may be heading toward an excess.
One issue that is often brought up by detractors is the wait times in Canada, in particular to see specialists. However, this is not due to the system. It is reported that the Canadians have made a conscious decision to hold down cost by limiting supply, which can create wait times. The wait time issue could be overcome by paying more but they have decided that they would rather have lower costs.
A poll conducted in 2009 in Canada (apparently the last one conducted) shows that 89.9% of Canadians support their universal health care system. And back when the poll was conducted, seven in ten Canadians thought President Obama was right in pursing health reform.
When you look at what Canadians pay for their health care compared to what we pay, the difference is shocking. Data from two sources in 2011 and 2013 correspond and indicate that in the U.S. we paid over $8,500 as opposed to Canada where they paid about $4,500, in other words about half of what we pay. As a percent of GDP the ratios are about the same; we still pay about twice. If we went to a Canadian system in the U.S., we would save a staggering $1.3 Trillion in healthcare spending.
In the next post, I will look in more detail at the programs in Europe which are even better than those in Canada and in some cases cost even less. The goal is to educate everyone about what we are doing in this country regarding our health system. We can no longer allow ideology to make our decisions for us when facts and data prove that it is costing us so much money. And we don’t need to develop our own system; all we need to do is copy the best system elsewhere.
Next: U. S. Health Care Compared to Europe