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Thread: Canada ranked among worst in health care

  1. #1

    Canada ranked among worst in health care}

    Canada ranked among worst in health care
    Fraser Institute report
    Heather Sokoloff
    National Post

    Tuesday, August 20, 2002

    Canada spends more on health care than any other industrialized country, but ranks among the worst in the world for quality, according to a report comparing Canada to 25 European and Asian countries with a similar universal, publicly funded system.

    Nations such as Sweden, France, Australia and Japan outperform Canada in keeping women with breast cancer alive; the number of years people can expect to live without a disability; preventing death from disease and waiting times for health services.

    Only residents of Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom have less access than Canadians to high-technology equipment, such as CT scans, MRIs and lithotripters.

    The report, released yesterday by the Fraser Institute, found all the top-ranked countries offer private health care services alongside a larger, publicly funded system.

    "When you look at the countries that beat us hands down -- France, Sweden and Australia -- they all have user fees, they all have some form of private hospitals," said Michael Walker, co-author of the report entitled How Good is Canadian Health Care? An International Comparison of Health Care Systems.

    One of Stockholm's largest full-service hospitals, for example, is run as a for-profit business that trades on the Swedish stock exchange, he said.

    "None of them do what we do, namely outlawing a private parallel health care system. Surely, we should adopt the systems that other people are using that are more effective than ours."

    The United States was excluded from the report because health care in that country, for the most part, is not government-funded.

    In order to have a meaningful debate about health care reform, Dr. Walker said, Canadians need to stop linking private health care with inequalities common within the American context. In fact, Canada is the only country in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development where the government acts as the monopoly health care provider, making the provision of private health insurance for core services illegal.

    More than two-thirds of the nations included in the report charge user fees for access to hospitals, general practitioners or specialists and, in many cases, to all three.

    "It hasn't caused any reduction in the compassionate, universal access aspect of their health care systems. They have been able to combine compassion with the efficient delivery of health care. We can do the same," Dr. Walker said.

    Canada spends the most on health care -- 11.7% of its gross domestic product, based on a formula accounting for the average age of the population and how much different age brackets cost the system. France spends 10.1% of its GDP on health, Australia 10.9%, Sweden 7.9% and Japan 7.6%.

    The worldwide doctor shortage is more acute in Canada than other countries. Canada ranked 17th in the number of doctors per 1,000 people, for a total of 56,914 doctors. To equal France, ranked sixth, Canada would have to hire an additional 38,000 physicians, Dr. Walker said.

    The study also concluded access to care was not uniform among socio-economic groups. Those with below-average incomes were 9% less likely than affluent Canadians to rate care as excellent and 6% more likely to rate care as poor.

    The report, released on the same day the Canadian Medical Association announced a majority of Canadians assigned failing or mediocre grades to the government's handling of medicare, was welcomed by many doctors who are aware their counterparts in other countries can offer their patients better quality health services.

    John Mathieson, head of the radiology unit for Victoria's Capital Health Region, said his patients may wait a year for an MRI to detect life-threatening conditions such as multiple sclerosis. High-tech diagnostic machines are not replaced after a decade of use.

    CT scanners are in such short supply he spends much of his day answering telephone calls from other doctors pleading with him to squeeze in their patients.

    He said breast cancer patients wait months for a diagnosis and then another month for surgery. "I don't have any doubt that some people's cancers spread and get worse in that waiting period. If we did them right away, they would survive or have a better outcome," he said.

    "We make people sit there and wait while their cancer spreads. It happens every day."

  2. #2
    This is definitely not good! Canadians deserve better than this.


  3. #3
    I know! I have to wait 5 months for a urologist appointment, and over a year for a MRI. Because they aren't urgent.

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