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Published by The National Center for Public Policy Research
Health Care: Is the Canadian
Health Care System Better Than America's?
A February 2004 Canadian Medical Association poll revealed that only 14 percent of Canadians believe their country has a sufficient number of doctors. 49 percent of Canadians said either they or a member of their household had to wait "longer than you thought was reasonable" to see a medical specialist within the last year. 38 percent gave the same answer when asked about access to their family physician, and 31 percent said so about access to advanced diagnostic procedures.2
A whopping 74 percent of Canadians
were concerned about long waits for access to emergency room
services, while seven percent said they or a member of their
household had suffered deteriorating medical conditions as a
result of delays in access for care over the past year. Two percent
of Canadians actually reported that a member of their household
had died waiting for health care.3
So shortages are inevitable. Says Dr. Cihak:
Says Sally Pipes, a Canadian who runs the U.S.-based Pacific Research Institute and who is the author of a book on the Canadian system:
According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (an international organization of 30 member nations), in 2001, 63 percent of Americans reported a waiting time of one month or less for elective surgery, compared to 37 percent of Canadians. 32 percent of Americans waited 1-3 months for elective surgery compared to 36 percent of Canadians. Only five percent of Americans reported waits of four months or more for such procedures, compared to 27 percent of Canadians.6
In September 2004, an article by Canadian researchers appearing in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association reported that Canadian heart attack patients run a 17 percent greater risk of dying than their U.S. counterparts. The researchers concluded that the reason for higher Canadian mortality following heart attacks lay in the difference between the way the Canadian and U.S. health systems are organized.7
Advocates of a Canadian system do tout this benefit: Patients pay nothing for services. But this this accurate? Only for those patients who aren't Canadian taxpayers. Twenty-two percent of all of Canada's tax revenues go to pay for Canada's health care system.8
That's a lot of money for Canadian citizens to spend for a service they can't be sure they'll get.
Issue Date: September 24, 2004
1 Sally C. Pipes, "Health Care, Canadian Style," FoxNews.com, September 18, 2004
2 "New CMA poll confirms access-to-care concerns rising," Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association newsletter, Spring 2004
3 Dennis Bueckert, "Access to Health Care Worse: Poll," CNews (Sun papers), Canada, February 25, 2004
4 Robert J. Cihak, M.D., "Canada's Medical Nightmare," Health Care News, The Heartland Institute, September 1, 2004
5 Sally C. Pipes, "Health Care, Canadian Style," FoxNews.com, September 18, 2004
6 Elizabeth Docteur, Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, "U.S. Health Care System Performance in an International Context," Powerpoint presentation, Academy Health Research Meeting, Nashville, TN, July 28, 2003
7 Jennifer Warner, "U.S. Tops Canada in Post-Heart Attack Care," WebMD Medical News, September 20, 2004
8 Jay Lehr, Ph.D., "Canadian Health Care Is No Model for U.S.," Health Care News, The Heartland Institute/Galen Institute, June 1, 2004