Sunday, October 13, 2013


To begin, health care in Canada is anything but free. The average Canadian family of two parents with two children (similar to Walt’s family in the drama) pays approximately $11,320 in taxes for hospital and physician care through the country’s tax system, in addition to — for those who buy it — the cost of private insurance for things such as dental care and outpatient prescription drugs. While overall health care spending is lower in Canada than the United States in comparison to their overall economies, it is certainly higher than in almost any other developed country that offers universal health care.
Canadian Care?
Next comes the question of the scope and timeliness of medical services provided in exchange for this substantial expenditure. Surely such expenditure is justified if Canadians receive a stellar health care system in return for their tax dollars. Unfortunately, that simply isn’t the case. 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 a timely manner. The most recent annual survey of wait times in Canada revealed that patients have to wait approximately four and a half months on average to receive treatment for medically necessary elective procedures after referral from a general practitioner (whom many Canadians also have a hard time finding). While the wait is shorter for cancer patients (about a month), we also have to remember the long wait patients face for access to diagnostic imaging technologies like MRIs (over two months on average) and CT scanners (almost a month on average) which are vital for assisting in making the diagnosis in the first place. Such delays can have large impacts on cancer patients given the possibility that the size of a cancerous tumor doubles every four months.
Well, I suppose you could say having health care paid for through taxes which insulates consumers from price and quality is the ideal, because it is universal, and "fair" and stuff like that.  But only the naive would think such a system wouldn't have consequences, some predictable and some unexpected.
The expected consequences are rationing, shortages, and wait times including filters between patients and doctors.  Other expected consequences would be quality decreases associated with a disconnect between patients and the service provider.  Unexpected consequences are that you could get better access to diagnostic equipment in Canada if you were a dog or cat, because animal care is not socialized and vets make money by buying good equipment (capital expenditure) to leverage for better patient care.

No comments:

Post a Comment