Canadian Health Care Not So Cheap After All

It’s a matter of faith among advocates of socialized medicine that our neighbors to the north enjoy a health care system vastly superior to our own, and prominent among their talking points is the claim that Canada is somehow better at cost control than the U.S. The facts, however, don’t support that contention. In fact, this study shows that Canadian health care costs are pretty much out of control:

Last year, public spending on health care in seven of 10 provinces was on pace to consume more than half of total revenues by 2022, two thirds by the year 2032, and all of provincial revenue by 2050.

And spending isn’t merely outpacing tax revenue:

Health spending … has also outpaced inflation and economic growth …despite higher tax burdens in each of the provinces as well as government policies that restrict access to medically necessary goods and services.

How are they going to make ends meet? Via NCPA, the Globe & Mail reports that one province is exploring “various revenue opportunities,? to include:

Increasing residential care “co-payments? [and] enacting “co-payment? for home-support clients.

But surely care won’t suffer, right? Wrong. The budget crunch is predicted to result in:

Emergency department congestion, delays and cancellations of surgical and diagnostic procedures, medical units operating at overcapacity, and delays in rehabilitation and access to community services.

So, it would appear that Canadian health care system doesn’t have magical powers after all.

Comments 6

  1. Jared wrote:

    Who claims Canada’s health care has magical powers? Anyone that thinks the money that runs the systems comes from nowhere are kidding themselves. The only difference is that we all share the cost, and as a result we have a system that nearly everyone is entitled to the same basic level of health care as the next person.

    According to an 2004 OECD study (http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/31/2/36958547.pdf) the United States of America health care system costs $6102 per person while in Canada is $3165 (and when you compare public to public spending the US still spends more per person than Canada.) So as you can see we are making due with about half what the USA does, it’s understandable to see our system under extreme pressure to increase spending.

    With our booming dollar and economy (thanks War on Terror!) the health and education systems that have been largely neglected in recent years are pressuring for more money and getting it. No one (at least in Canada) is denying that our health system has flaws but I think most will agree that it’s better than our neighbors to the South (unless you’re waiting for surgery on a non-life threatening condition.)

    Posted 28 May 2007 at 10:14 am
  2. Xalem wrote:

    But what is amazing about Canadians is that we are willing to keep increasing the amount we pay for health care. We want our neighbors (our seniors, our poor, our handicapped) to get good health coverage. We feel we have failed when remote Inuit villagers have difficulty getting access to specialists, or a rural Saskatchewan town can’t get a second doctor. A Canadians, these failings bug us, and so, we don’t balk when the government puts money into our health care system. As future costs spiral up, the success of our system will be how well the Canadian public stands firm on doing this together. Frankly, knowing Canadians, I think we will cling to our model for a long time.

    Posted 28 May 2007 at 11:00 am
  3. Catron wrote:

    Jared, you might want to be careful with those OECD stats. If you read this, you will find that they are not “internationally comparable.”

    Posted 28 May 2007 at 2:37 pm
  4. canadista wrote:

    The federal government and majority of provincial governments in Canada are all reporting significant budget surpluses.(The Federal government has been in a surplus position for twelve years) How are costs outpacing revenues. Rather than going broke, Canada is thriving. The Federal government recently introduced targeted tax cuts and a generous child care stipend for children under six. The subject of tax cuts has been proposed in elections recently and polls always show a wide majority of Canadians don’t want tax cuts if they would negatively impact health care funding.
    Your screed on Canadian health care seems to be standard insurance company fear mongering boiler plate.
    It appears the conservative m.o. of attacking and smearing remains in tact. I’m sure we’ll soon see the “swiftboat doctors” against socialized medicine (i.e. health care for society)launching a campaign soon.

    Posted 11 Jul 2007 at 2:51 pm
  5. canadista wrote:

    Your sources about canada Health care all seem to be The Frasier Institute.
    The F.I. is a right-wing think tank famous for loving all things American, from trickle down economics to joining the U.S. invasion of Iraq 2. They are the “tax cut cure all” conservative side of the right-wing-nut party. Their chief gripe with scoialized medicine is ; a) the public funds used for health care should be cut to bring in tax cuts. (capital gains tax cuts for the rich);b) we have the money in pocket to pay for our health care and we despise having to pay taxes so the less fortunate get the same health care.
    The bottom line is your source for facts about Canadian health care problems are a biased source( probably more so than “Sicko”)that has been raising these red herrings for decades.

    Posted 11 Jul 2007 at 3:17 pm
  6. Catron wrote:

    If you have a better source of data, I’d be delighted to see it.

    Posted 11 Jul 2007 at 3:33 pm

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