Canada - Health Care

Prices have also grown dramatically in the US.

Its about 18% of GDP in the US vs about 11.5% of GDP in Canada.

US health care now eats up 5% more of GDP vs an extra 2.4% of GDP in Canada compared to the year 2000.

I believe Alberta has no income tax. Quebec does and it comes to slightly higher than the federal tax. The budget of Quebec shows 47% going for health care. There is some health care money from the federal government too, so I can guess that a quarter of my taxes are going for health care. Like Leaffan I am sure I have paid more into the system than I have taken out of it and I don’t mind in the least. Nothing I have put into my fire insurance has ever come back to me and only a very tiny amount of the home insurance and auto insurance has ever benefited me and I am grateful for that.

But when I fill out a US tax return every year and get a tax credit for Canadian taxes paid it overwhelms (generally by a factor of 2), the US tax I would be liable for. So we do pay a lot in taxes. Also in Quebec we pay a combined sales tax of a whisker under 15%.

When people start throwing around statistics about costs, taxes, percentage of GDP, government budgets, etc,it gets very complicated. So I prefer to suggest a different way to view it:
Discuss just one simple statistic, which everyone can measure directly:

That statistic is : Time,measured in minutes.
How many minutes do you spend each year discussing your health insurance?

Americans spend an enormous amount of time and mental energy worrying about their health insurance. They make major life decisions based on their health insurance (whether to change jobs, whether to get married or divorced, whether to accept an ambulance ride after being injured, etc).
People who live in every other country on the planet do NOT spend much time or energy worrying about their health insurance.They can switch jobs, and get married or divorced without panicking over their health coverage. And they sure don’t hesitate to get into the ambulance after an injury.

Peace of mind is hard to define, but by my suggestion, it’s easy to measure: when you spend zero time talking about something, you have no worries about it.
That means it’s a good system.
(Disclaimer:I am not Canadian, so maybe I don’t belong in this thread. But I live in a country with the same general system of health care that Canada has.(Israel).
In my household right now, we are undergoing 4 months of chemotherapy ,and 3 serious operations for cancer. I’m only worried about the “high” costs of… the parking fees at the hospital.

Compare that to my family in America: Whenever I talk to them about their hospital treatments, they never mention the parking fees to me. :slight_smile:
But they spend dozens of hours talking to the billing agents at every medical clinic they set foot in.

Alberta has an income tax. No sales tax.

The Canadian system provides a good standard of care to most people who need it. It could be better. It isn’t cheap. But it does provide good value.

I have little to add to the above comments.

You might wait longer than you want to see a specialist. Hospitals don’t have luxurious amenities. Quality of care is influenced by geography. In the big scheme of things, most doctors are appropriately educated and don’t do too many unnecessary procedures or tests. A few services are inadequate, due to high demand — e.g. psychiatry, especially the pediatric branch. Some services seem inadequate due to inappropriate demand - you’ll probably wait a long time in the ER with your sore throat.

Funded through high cigarette & booze taxes. That way your liver & lung transplant is free. :smiley:

In Canada we have Kiefer Sutherland’s grandfather to thank for it.

Keifer’s grandad (Socialist)

And Justice Emmett Hall (Conservative)

And PM Pearson (Liberal)

It was a policy decision that crossed party boundaries, although the degree of support varied within each party.

Here’s the reverse of that anecdote. An American guy I know here in Osaka Japan contracted necrotizing fasciitis in his foot while he was in India. The next day when his foot had swollen up to twice it’s size he high tailed it back to Japan. The infection had almost made it up into his hip area but the Japanese hospital eventually completely cured him (other than terrible scarring) over a two-month period. P.S. I saw the photos and his foot was just bones with almost all the dead flesh scraped away. His brother, who is a US doctor, later told him that if he had flown back to the US they would have amputated the leg due to legal liability requirements.

Its a myth.

Theres been research done on it, where they’ve checked the records of US hospitals, and it seems its about 600 people per year go to the US for medical care. Most medical treatment of Canadians in the US involves snowbirds and retirees living in the south for the climate.

People going the other way -Americans fraudulently getting free healthcare in Canada on false ID or documentation has been estimated to be about 600 000 people per year. And roughly two million get prescriptions filled in Canada.

I got references for these on my work computer if anyones interested, although with the last week before christmas coming up, I may not be quick. Note that the last numbers -Americans filching free healthcare in Canada- are not firm and may be old. It is, after all a crime but not one people are eager to record. So its hard to survey.

Missed the edit window:

Why would you pick the US as a place to purchase healthcare anyway ?
Beyond specialist care for rare issues where smaller nations may not find it economical to keep specialist expertise (and that would normally be covered by national systems anyway. We just had a case like that locally)

I mean, US healthcare is notoriously massively expensive, with unpredictable final bills where the only thing you know for sure is that they will be huge. And hospital error rates and amenable mortality stats indicates that the outcomes are not very good.

Poor quality and being the most expensive is not a good position in the market place, and medical tourism is mostly out of pocket.

Why would people who need to travel for healthcare pick the US over the UK, Switzerland, Norway, India, Thailand etc ?

I’ve travelled to the US for an MRI to cut the line. I had a brain MRI scheduled up here that would have taken 9 months without negotiating for an earlier appointment from someone else’s cancellation. Instead I booked a next day appointment in Buffalo and paid $500.

If I had an urgent need for an MRI, I would have gotten it without going to the US.

I have seen truck drivers who, after having a heart attack in Florida, drove for two days to come back to Canada for covered care. I don’t recommend it. But I’ve seen something similar more than a dozen times.

Just commenting on the “socialism” thing.

I get free police protection paid for by my taxes.

I get free fire protection, paid for by my taxes.

Piper Cub gets free education paid for by my taxes.

I get free roads, paid for by my taxes.

I get free healthcare, paid for by my taxes.

Which of these is “socialism”? They’re all government services.

Just following up on Spoons’ excellent comment: one qualification, about ownership and operation of hospitals.

There is variation from province to province on the operation of hospitals. I understand that in some provinces, as Sooons describes, some hospitals are run by private charitable or non-profit organizations. There’s even a for-profit hospital in Ontario specializing in hernias.

But in some provinces, hospitals and hospitals staff (other than doctors) are public agencies. For example, in Saskatchewan, I think all hospitals now are operated by the Saskatchewan Health Authority, which is a government agency.

Bottom line, however, is that it doesn’t matter. They all provide health care under the Medicare system, with no fees.