America’s friendly hat attracts the world’s attention when it comes to Healthcare. Americans debate about its effectiveness when compared to their own system and I think a healthy portion of its appeal is in the fact it is so easy to argue about.
The Canadian system, unofficially named Medicare, is quite different to its American counterpart even though it shares a fair portion in common. Let’s take a look into the effects of having maple syrup for blood on long-term health.
Medicare is Trying Really Hard to Care
The system is universal and if you’re Canadian, you’re covered.
Decades ago, Canadian minds came together under the banner of egalitarianism in order to create a safety net for the health of its citizens. By moving to a single payer system, they were able to keep down costs for individuals and reduce spending on healthcare overall. Any necessary medical procedure comes with no out of pocket cost. Canadians are generally healthier, expected to live longer, and happier with their healthcare than the Americans down south. Care Providers are generally private and doctors often work part time. Being a single payer system keeps administrative costs low so it’s no wonder that healthcare accounts for only 10.4% of Canadian GDP. This all sounds great, what is there to argue about?
Well, Now that I have hyped up Canadian Medicare, it’s time to get a bit grounded.
First issue that comes up, no matter who is talking about Canada’s Medicare is wait times. Unless your issue is pressing and sometimes even when it is, you will be waiting to see a care provider. Whether it’s a few hours in the wait-room or a few months waiting for a specialist, Canadians spend much more time waiting than Americans do.
Time to see a Specialist: CA- 3-6 Weeks US- 2-3 weeks
Time for Emergency Care: CA- 2-8 Hours US- 1-2 Hours
In America, waiting more than 2 hours for emergency care is excessive, while in Canada, the average wait is nearly 3 hours and waiting for more than 8 hours is not uncommon.
Medicare Doesn’t Care About Drugs or Teeth
30% of Canada’s Healthcare spending goes to Dentists and Pharmacies, neither of which are covered by Medicare. Drug Costs alone make up 16% and on average Canadians spend a touch over $1,000 per year on their prescriptions.
Many Canadians purchase insurance to cover what Medicare won’t and overall, the system still beats out America’s by most metrics. Americans pay more all-around per capita and Americas total healthcare spending accounts for nearly 20% of its GDP. People don’t go bankrupt when they have an accident in Canada, at least not from the cost of care.
What Should We Take from Canada’s Example?
Single Payer systems are ruthlessly efficient. No need for armies of coders and billers, no haggling with insurance companies and sending debts to collections. Care Providers know where they are getting their money from and they know the Canadian government is good for it.
Having the government as the single payer also makes keeping healthcare spending under control more simple. The Government effectively controls the supply of care and with that control, they have achieved a relatively low % of GDP devoted to healthcare.
Low spending leads to long wait times in Canada. We like to know that we can have what we want right now, we’re much less patient with needs. Americans may have to get used to the waiting room, though that’s not a guarantee. Much of our current spending goes to the unnecessary administrative costs associated with our mixed healthcare economy. If we were to trim the fat and streamline the healthcare system’s financial side, we may be able to provide better care and shorter wait times.
Maybe then some Canadian guy will write an article about how Canada could learn from the US.
About the Author
Hello, you can call me Suede. I am a Millennial living in Southern California and over the course of my short life I’ve worked in more industries than many will ever experience, experimented with psychoactive substances and explored the inner workings of the human mind to find the underlying truths that we all live with. My journey has led me all over the United States and a few places outside it in order to understand what makes a life worth living. I am an entrepreneur, an autodidact, and a creator. I am Suede, nice to meet you.