Recently, a scathing report on the United States' health care system was issued. Surprisingly, little was made of this report in Canada. This was a shocking oversight, given that our performance on this same report was abysmal. Our health care system ranked second last in the study. How did our once-vaunted health care system become such a very expensive failure?
Those opposed to market-based health care reform do their best to scare Canadians. Reality, however, is considerably different. International experience suggests that private competition is a fundamental feature of a high-performing, universal access health care system. For evidence, consider the Dutch health care system where private (and even for-profit) insurance companies, private providers, activity-based funding and cost sharing combine to provide more timely access to high (if not higher) quality care than Canada's system for similar cost.
As consumers of an amazing medical system, I see the benefits of what we have to offer. At the same time I do see the shortfalls. I often wonder if we had a system which emphasized prevention, nutrition, meditation, breathing, routine exercise, living life from a heart based existence and more -- would we have such an expensive health care system?
As in the U.S., there's much soul searching about whether the country is getting as much bang for the bucks it spends. Does the quality of care match the country's outlay? A number of studies, including the latest international comparison from The Commonwealth Fund, show that Canada and the U.S. both fall down on several dimensions of care.
If being sick doesn't kill you, the medical bills might. Imagine getting better and being bankrupted for it. Facing the prospect of financially devastating medical bills is a reality many Americans know isn't going away. But a newly announced partnership between B.C. startup FundRazr and leading US provider of healthcare information Healthline.com may just save them from financial ruin.
Canada's health expenditures as a share of the economy are, after accounting for our younger population, higher compared to every other developed nation with universal health insurance. Yet Canadians endure some of the longest delays for emergency care, primary care, specialist consultations, and elective surgery in the developed world.
New medicines are a central component of modern medical care. Unfortunately for Canadians, our federal government takes an approach that is slower than others, unnecessarily costly for taxpayers, and is ultimately of questionable benefit to Canadians. Canadian approvals for market access to new drugs take longer than similar approvals in both Europe (under the European Medicines Agency) and the U.S. (under the FDA). Specifically, the median approval time was longer in Canada than in the other jurisdictions in four of the past five years. But would faster approval of new drugs expose us to greater risk? Perhaps.
How did you end up paying for my teeth cleaning? My private health insurance plan reimburses me for dentistry and optometry, as well as prescription drugs and other health care services. But health insurance premiums aren't taxed the way the rest of income is. People without private health insurance are disadvantaged the most by the private health insurance subsidy. They have no private health insurance themselves, yet they still end up subsidizing everyone else's coverage.