New study: Angus Reid Institute analyzes Canada’s single payer healthcare system

Price of healthcare per Canadian household (Source: Fraser Institute)
The cost of healthcare for average Canadian households

I found two interesting studies from Canada’s Angus Reid Institute describing single payer health care in Canada. I’m very interested in find out what things are like in countries that have true government-run health care. A typical Canadian family pays $13,000+ per year per household for healthcare, or about $585,000 over their working lives. What are they getting for all that money?

Here is the first Angus Reid article:

The study finds more than 2 million Canadians aged 55 and older face significant barriers when accessing the health care system in their province, such as being unable to find a family doctor or experiencing lengthy wait-times for surgery, diagnostic tests, or specialist visits.

Moreover, most Canadians in this age group have at least some difficulty getting the care they want or need in a timely manner.

The study focuses on the health care experiences of older Canadians, as well as their assessments of the quality of care they receive.

According to the article, 31% of respondents (aged 55 and older) rated access to the government’s healthcare system as “easy”. 48% had “moderate” problems with access, and 21% had “major” problems with access.

Remember: in the Canadian system, you pay your money up front in taxes, and then they decide how much healthcare you will get later – and how soon you will get it. If you worked from ages 20 to age 65, then your household will have paid 45 x $13,000 = $585,000 into the system, in order to get “moderate” problems with accessing healthcare after you’re aged 55.

And the Canadian system DOES NOT cover prescription drugs.

The second Angus Reid article explains:

This second part of the study finds one-in-six Canadians (17%) in the 55-plus age group – a figure that represents upwards of 1.8 million people – say that they or someone else in their household have taken prescription drugs in a way other than prescribed because of cost.

One-in-ten (10%) have decided to simply not fill a prescription because it was too expensive, and a similar number (9%) have decided not to renew one for the same reason. One-in-eight (12%) have taken steps to stretch their prescriptions, such as cutting pills or skipping doses.

Some 17 per cent of Canadians 55 and older have done at least one of these things, and that proportion rises among those who have greater difficulty accessing other aspects of the health care system.

In a previous blog post, I reported on how Canadians have to wait in order to see their GP doctor. If that doctor refers them to a specialist, then they have to wait to see the specialist. And if that specialist schedules surgery, then they have to wait for their surgery appointment. The delays can easily go from weeks to months and even years. The MEDIAN delay from GP referral to treatment is 19.5 weeks.

But remember – they paid into the system FIRST. The decisions about when and if they will be treated are made later, by experts in the government. This is what it means for a government monopoly to run health care. There are no free exchanges of money for service in a competitive free market. Costs are controlled by delaying and withholding treatment. And no one knows this better than elderly Canadians themselves. But by the time they realize how badly they’ve been swindled, it’s too late to get their money back out. You can’t pull your tax money out of government if you are disappointed with the service you receive. There are no refunds. There are no returns.

One thought on “New study: Angus Reid Institute analyzes Canada’s single payer healthcare system”

  1. A lot of that depends on where you live in Canada. Not all provinces are the same. There are far fewer rural doctors, which can make it difficult to find one, but we’ve never had to wait to see our GP. Getting to see a specialist, on the other hand, is ludicrous.

    We currently live in a province with Pharmacare, so drugs are covered. There is a deductible that is based on income. When we moved, our pharmacist made sure we got application forms for it, even though we are on an excellent private insurance plan. We never did get the straight of whether or not we were approved until recently, when our private insurance suddenly stopped covering some of my husband’s many medications. It turned out that, because our province has Pharmacare, the insurance company simply stopped covering things once we hit the deductible – except it was a “default” number, because we had no idea what our actual deductible was. Their default number was $1500. After many phone calls, we found out we did indeed have Pharmacare, but with my husband’s private insurance disability income, the deductible was over $3000. We’re still dealing with it, but once the paperwork gets processed, our private insurance will adjust their default to what our deductible actually is. We’ve been here for almost 3 years, and had no idea it was an issue until just a couple of weeks ago!

    Meanwhile, our pharmacy let me bring home a month’s worth of my husband’s medications without paying for it. They will rebill the insurance company once it’s all fixed at their end.

    Our experiences have been quite different in all the provinces we’ve lived in.

    Like

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