Who’s getting care in the U.S.?

A comment in the newspaper led me to the Wiki page for Canadian Health Care and this table of statistics. The comment, followed by the table:

“If providing public funded healthcare was easy you would think there would be a few examples of some country doing it right. “Right” in this case means delivering competent (not state of the art) healthcare at a stable price commensurate with the rise in population and the general inflation rate. Certainly amongst the larger countries in Western Europe you find only systems that are struggling to hold the line on costs within the aforementioned limits. All of these systems dictate how much doctors and hospitals can charge and to varying degrees ration healthcare

Obamacare was drafted by a fetid collection of career politicians, lobbyists and learned deniers of the truth. It yielded a 2,000 page collection of the “worst of the worst” elements on which to build such a system and omitted proven elements of success. The highly vaunted Canadian healthcare bill was drawn in 37 pages and that included English and French versions!

Obamacare was sold on the universality of coverage and the constraint of costs. The availability of the “opt out” option together with a patchwork quilt of variously qualified providers makes a mockery of universality and the absence of effective cost containment will soon result in historic healthcare inflation to be paid by riotous taxpayers.”

Country Life expectancy Infant mortality rate Physicians per 1000 people Nurses per 1000 people Per capita expenditure on health (USD) Healthcare costs as a percent of GDP % of government revenue spent on health % of health costs paid by government
Australia 81.4 4.2 2.8 9.7 3,137 8.7 17.7 67.7
Canada 81.3 4.5 2.2 9.0 3,895 10.1 16.7 69.8
France 81.0 4.0 3.4 7.7 3,601 11.0 14.2 79.0
Germany 79.8 3.8 3.5 9.9 3,588 10.4 17.6 76.9
Japan 82.6 2.6 2.1 9.4 2,581 8.1 16.8 81.3
Sweden 81.0 2.5 3.6 10.8 3,323 9.1 13.6 81.7
UK 79.1 4.8 2.5 10.0 2,992 8.4 15.8 81.7
US 78.1 6.9 2.4 10.6 7,290 16.0 18.5 45.4

4 responses to this post.

  1. For what it’s worth, our experience of the Canadian healthcare system has been uniformly excellent – and we get far more, and better, preventative care than we ever did in the U.S., practically for free. Besides that, with a small Blue Cross policy we get 80-100% reimbursement for services like message therapy and physical therapy, eye glasses or contacts every 2 years, and so on. Quebec also has a prescription drug policy in which we all pay a small amount on our yearly taxes, and then everyone receives a subsidy for their prescription drugs.It actually works, and best of all there is NO PAPERWORK.


  2. As somone who has dealt, on a consumer level, with both the Canadian and the US systems I agree with most of what Beth wrote above from a personal point of view, but there are problems with Canada. One is that unfortunately whenever you put a lot of money in one place fraud and corruption are invited to join. There are essentially two medical systems in Montreal, the English system and the French system. Both are building (what are to me ill-advised) super hospitals and on the English side that hospital is almost complete. The framework under which the hospital was financed was a public-private partnership involving, of course, huge sums of money and contracts. Guess what? Police are raiding administrative and corporate offices, and millions of dollars have disappeared in “irregular payments”. That’s public money. There have also been stories (unresolved at this point) of irregular billings (read fraudulent) of thousands of hours of employee work at the Royal Vic, which is now practically in receivership. But like I said, from a personal point of view the care has been good. People complain about wait times but we had wait times in the US too. When things need to happen they happen fast, though being sick is never fun.
    In my experience the same dynamic of the health care system being used for questionable/illegal personal profit happens in the US too. There is too much money floating around in the healthcare system not to bring out the worst – and the best – in human behavior.
    I think what the root difference is in the Canadian system is that people feel secure and not fearful – and that’s a huge benefit to society.


    • I agree that a feeling of security is very important, both as a preventative and a therapeutic. Wait times in the U.S. seem about the same as those in Canada, according to my meager gathering of surveys and statistics. It seems there may be a possibility that in cases where extremely rapid state of the art treatment is beneficial (read stroke) or very advanced surgical techniques are desirable, the US may have an edge. I’m sure that in either country, proximity to good facilities and fortune play a huge role in getting treatment. I really appreciate the input from you and Beth on this. Word from the people on the ground!


  3. Jonathan wrote: “I think what the root difference is in the Canadian system is that people feel secure and not fearful – and that’s a huge benefit to society.” Wow, I can’t agree more. My colleagues and friends worry constantly about health care expenses, and it can’t be a good thing to have so many anxious people–hurts a country’s morale, clouds judgment.


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