Is Bernie Sanders correct to say that Canada has better, lower-cost health care?

Wall Street Journal calculates cost of Sanders spending plan
Wall Street Journal calculates cost of Sanders spending plan

He seems to be really passionate about raising taxes on working families, and then giving them “free” health care in return. Let’s see how that’s working out in Canada, where they do have a single-payer health care system.

The Washington Free Beacon reports:

Waiting times for medically necessary health care services under Canada’s single-payer system have hit a record high, according to a report from the Fraser Institute.

[…]The Fraser Institute found that patients under Canada’s single-payer system this year waited an average of 10.9 weeks—roughly two-and-a-half months—from the time they had a consultation with a specialist to the time at which they received treatment. Physicians consider 7.2 weeks to be a clinically reasonable wait time.

The report also found that patients’ wait for treatment after referral to a specialist by their general practitioner was 21.2 weeks, or longer than four months.

“This year’s wait time—the longest ever recorded in this survey’s history—is 128 percent longer than in 1993, when it was just 9.3 weeks,” the report states.

The report, which looks at 10 provinces in Canada, found that there are 1,040,791 patients waiting for procedures. There are also high wait times to receive scans and ultrasounds. Patients waited an average of 10.8 weeks for an MRI scan and 3.9 weeks for an ultrasound.

“Research has repeatedly indicated that wait times for medically necessary treatment are not benign inconveniences,” the report states. “Wait times can, and do, have serious consequences such as increased pain, suffering, and mental anguish.”

According to the report, patients experience long wait times for surgeries, waiting as long as 41.7 weeks for orthopedic surgery, 32.9 weeks for neurosurgery, and 31.4 weeks for ophthalmology.

“In certain instances, [wait times] can also result in poorer medical outcomes—transforming potentially reversible illnesses or injuries into chronic, irreversible conditions, or even permanent disabilities,” the report states. “In many instances, patients may also have to forgo their wages while they wait for treatment, resulting in an economic cost to the individuals themselves and the economy in general.”

Fraser points out that previous studies have found the lost economic output in waiting for joint replacement surgery, coronary artery bypass graft surgery, MRI scans, and cataract surgery totaled $14.8 billion in 2007.

The report also notes that 46.3 percent of patients would prefer to have their procedure performed within a week if they had the opportunity to do so.

The article also quotes Sally C. Pipes, a Canadian health care expert who knows how much Canadian taxpayers pay for “free” health care.

Pipes also refutes Sanders’s claim that Canada’s system offers relatively the same quality of care at a cheaper cost.

“It isn’t cheaper because Canadians pay for health care through their taxes,” Pipes explains. “The average Canadian family pays anywhere between $4,000 and $12,000 a year in taxes for a system where they have to wait over five months from seeing a primary care doctor to getting treatment by a specialist.”

“There’s fewer doctors relative to the population than in all but four other industrialized countries,” she said. “It’s last in terms of acute care hospital beds and there’s doctor shortages, residency spots are down, and waiting times—this is what happens when government controls the health care system, and this is what Bernie Sanders wants for the United States.”

Canadians are also paid less than Americans. Why? Because Canadian employers have to pay a percentage of their employee’s salary to the government for health care. Obviously, the employers are going to take that out of their employee’s salary without telling them.

Finally, it should be obvious that progressive Canadian politicians go South when they’re sick for healthcare. They know that when health care is free, you get the quality you’re paying for.

One thing you need to understand is that if you put health care in the hands of politicians, they they will use it for vote-buying, like they do with any government-run social program. So, if you are young and want an abortion or a sex change, you’re in luck. Because you have a lot of voting ahead of you, and they want to keep you happy with big government. But, if you’re old, and don’t have so much voting left to do, you’re expendable. That’s why countries with big government health care, like the Netherlands and Canada and the UK are always tinkering with euthanasia for the elderly.

11 thoughts on “Is Bernie Sanders correct to say that Canada has better, lower-cost health care?”

  1. Health Care single system mentioned in this article basically points to data that reveal longer wait time and anecdote account of Danny Williams, Belinda Stronach and so on. I would like to point out that one of the real issue is not address here. How many of us find ourselves having wait time to get a plumber for a clog bathtub or kitchen sink? Two weeks? Unheard of. Why? It is about control and business. Put it in another way, How many doctors are required per 100,000 population. Been estimated to be 25 doctors on high end. This is for family practice. For cardiology ( heart ) on high end 3 doctors per 100,000 population. https://www.merritthawkins.com/pdf/a-review-of-physician-to-population-ratios.pdf
    What is not mention also is that in Canada, in order to sue a doctor it is like trying to sledge hammer the wall of house down to get into the house.

    Let us learn from a country that is doing it right. Singapore

    Highlights of Singapore health system: 1) Achieved through the joint
    responsibilities among government, individuals and employers. 2) Singapore Government has made great efforts to improve the health care system– by it’s active role in regulating the supply and prices of healthcare service. 3) Singapore occupies the Number 6 out of 191
    nations; whereas US with the largest proportion of GDP only ranks at the 37th. (World Health Organization.)
    S’pore has 3 M system–Medisave,MediShield and Medifund, plus ElderShield being promoted most recently.Under the umbrella of public financing for healthcare system.

    Next, the private financing like American International Assurance, Aviva, Great Eastern Life, NTUC Income and Prudential, Assurance. All of them offer private health insurance plans for individuals and groups.
    Next: they have the : ACTUARIES–http://www.actuaries.org.sg/:

    Here is a link to sink your teeth in: http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2008/01/singapores_heal.html

    Lastly what we can learn from Singapore: Link below
    https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/features/singapores-health-care-system-holds-lessons-for-u-s/
    .

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      1. Is the Swiss healthcare system somewhat akin to how we do car insurance in the states?

        I feel like our mixed healthcare system is even worse than our free-market healthcare in the 50’s, and it is worse than Canada’s socialist healthcare. That’s not to say that I endorse socialist medicine.

        A lot of libertarians would probably be against the Swiss system because they make it compulsory to have insurance, but there are pros and cons to every healthcare system.

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    1. Interesting that you choose Swiss HCS. According to WHO they rank 20/190. Singapore Top 6/190. http://thepatientfactor.com/canadian-health-care-information/world-health-organizations-ranking-of-the-worlds-health-systems/ In addition, I may have misunderstood you– you are for self determination, less government. Seems odd to me….Swiss HCS–insurance is mandatory, insurance company is heavily regulated–required to provide a basic, low cost, not-for-profit plan. Swiss are required to pay out-of-pocket for many medical services, totaling, on average $1,350 annually–according to NYTimes.http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/01/health/policy/01swiss.html?pagewanted=2&_r=1 How about Swiss government controlling cost resulting in less income for all types of health care providers. I am sure you oppose Obama Care but desire Swiss HCS which sets price limits for procedures. Care to explain to this reader or readers your logic?

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  2. Many Canadians would support a system here that had a pay per use. Even a small fee so people were thinking before running into the doctors office if they pay 20 or 50 out of pocket

    Politicians would fear putting that through in Canada in many places because it would be seen as bad. The closest we have are some private mri facilities can operate and for every fee paid customers they have they do a patient from the govt list. And collect only the govt mri fee that is less

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    1. The small fee pay per use is the most common improvement suggested by my Canadian friends. People overuse free things when they don’t really need it and that makes the waiting lists worse.

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  3. Medicine has advanced so far and lifetimes have increased I see no promise of healthcare can be made. Back when it first was made it was simple things or pregnancy, etc not complex expensive procedures that may or may not work

    Times have gone on but universal health care goes back to a promise that science can make all sickness go away. The more we learn the more we find that will never happen. Prolong life at an expense but the inevitable will happen

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