Canada’s health care system isn’t really free as there’s monthly premiums or yearly premiums to pay as well as taxes which pay for the entire health care system. There may also be some out of pocket expenses for non-insured services. In Canada there’s access to universal health care regardless of status, income, employment, health, or age. The administration of the heath care is done on a province to province basis. So when we try to evaluate the efficiency of the universal health care in Canada, let’s make a list of pros and cons of the universal health care so we can have better ideas what is good and what is bad for this kind of single payer health care system.
Pro of Healthcare in Canada: Access of Health Care for Everyone
In Canada anyone can get health care so this is a major advantage of this system. As long as the person is a resident of Canada they will receive some level of health care. People that are unemployed, student, disabled. Pensioners and so on can still get health care in Canada. This is usually the most talked about pro to universal health care and why it’s promoted so heavily. Hence, as it is administered by the Canadian government, the support for this health care system is really to improve the overall health of the citizens. It is an easy access and equal services for everyone, which will be a good future outgrowth to the increase of productivity and to cutback on the number of illnesses. For this reason, the coverage is universal and unrestricted where to get medical treatment is free as long as it doesn’t cover things such as drugs prescription, dental care, as well as eye care or glasses. Drugs are set to be cheap by pharmacy companies at a federal level.
Con of Healthcare in Canada: There can be Wait Times
Most non-emergency surgeries will require wait times. These wait times may put the patient at risk while they wait for a surgery or their condition may deteriorate as they wait. Those that need priority care make the wait times for others very frustrating. Seniors, those with life threatening conditions, and other urgent cases will be looked after first while others can sometimes wait a long time. Moreover, today, in 2016, these wait times circumstances have becoming more critical since of last year. This year’s waiting times are the longest it’s ever been recorded since 1993. From 9.3 weeks wait list in 1993 went up to 20 weeks, just an increase of 2.3 weeks in 2015. The total wait times that are faced by patients are evaluated in two continuous process. First, patients well-being are being referred from a general practitioner to a specialist. Second, referral from a specialist directly to where patients receive actual treatments. Again, this has become a serious issue for those with serious illnesses.
Pro: Education programs Reduce Costs
There are programs that work towards preventing injuries and teaching citizens about health issues. There’s more public awareness about health risks and these programs are funded by the Government. These programs are created to help reduce health care costs and to teach people how to take control of their health before there are more serious problems. There are programs for seniors, those with disabilities, awareness campaigns for back injuries, and so on. These programs help people in Canada stay healthier because they get more education about health related issues.
Con: Fees Don’t Take into Consideration Cost of Living
Health care providers are limited to what they can charge by the government. This limit can cap the earning potential of various providers and make it harder to pay back loans, limit their earning potential, and undermine their overall life. The limit of what they can charge may not keep pace with their cost of living. In other words, these potential health care providers, as well as practitioners, are authorized by the government to charge their patients for a specific amount of money in terms of treatments and other medical bills. Most of the medical bills, however, are relatively high and surprisingly the fees are mostly paid by taxpayers. In some cases, health care providers are paying off their loans to keep up with their businesses, since taxpayers feel the burden to pay high-cost fees. As a result, some health care providers have poor services. This is also a reason patients are on a waiting list.
Pro: Veterans are Looked After in Elder Years
The health care of veterans is well looked after in Canada and they get the care that they need in their later lives when they may be in care homes or seniors centers. The government just doesn’t treat injuries sustained in service of their country, the veterans get whatever care that they need. By all means, all veterans who are injured, disabled and in their old ages are admitted to a lifelong financial support and care under the Canadian health care system. These long-term care are included medical care facilities and comfort accommodations at nursing homes all over Canada. There are two care facilities and support arrangements for the long-serving veterans. One is called the “community” beds for nursing home care facilities specifically for the veterans as well as residents in a particular community. Another one is called the “contract” beds that are first priority home care facilities addressed for qualified veterans.
Con: Those in Rural Areas May Not Get a Fair Share of Care
The health care revenues are redistributed according to demographics but the rural areas may not get the funding that they need to cover all costs like the larger cities do. The facilities in these locations are improved at a slower rate which may require patients to go to city centers to get the care that they need there can be a shortage of specialists and doctors in these areas. In general, the life of the population in rural Canada have higher rates of deaths as well as infant mortality. Due to the lack of knowledge about health issues, the rural areas have very little accesses especially on health education. The number of general practitioners are also very less since the urban area offers more opportunities to grow. It’s also a challenge for these practitioners to treat patients with serious illnesses and that it will take time to transfer them to a bigger hospital. Therefore, it has been a serious matter as of today for the rural Canadians to get their fair share of health care system.
Pro: Excellency in Primary Care
Once you get to know a little bit about Canada’s health care system and joined the system, you will notice its excellence in primary care. In general, the system is focusing more into improving their medical resources for chronic illnesses and other medical technologies. Some medical treatments such as cardiovascular disease and many forms of cancer diseases are handled much better than other countries, since these chronic illnesses are the number one causes of death rates. Thus, in certain Canadian provinces, a team of healthcare experts are giving out more promotional events to the community on health and illness prevention.
Con: The Health Care System itself needs to be More Active and Outgoing
As good as it can be, the health care system in Canada needs to be more active and collective in terms of getting more efficiency in treating patients. Not all provinces gets to have insightful health promotion and prevention, but only happens when things are worse. Promotion and prevention should be about giving out to the community before it’s happening, not once it’s becomes an issue. It takes time for the system to reach out and aware of the shifting in illness and it’s treatments. They have good health care programs, but not too outgoing enough in terms of handling issues of health outcomes.
Pro: An Overall of “B” Ranking for Health Performance and Quality of Life
Canada has been proven to be one of the best in health care system in the world despite some of the flaws here and there. According to the Conference Board of Canada, its overall performance on health outcomes is ranked “B” amongst its peer countries, which means Canada is still in a good condition when it comes to their survival rates. Therefore, Canada ranks its best on seven health indicators that includes better life expectancy, mortality due to medical mishaps, abortive mortality, mortality caused by respiratory disorders, mortality for circulatory disorders, death rates in mental disorders and self-reporting health condition.
Con: A Political Decision Making Strategy
The downside of the Canadian health care system is highly a matter of a political issue towards decision making strategy in terms of the direct involvement from the federal level, meaning the public system, or by private funding on the health care outcomes. At the federal level, particular provinces in Canada are mostly responsible for all the administrative processes and the policies of the health care system itself. Whereas, private fundings and services comes from a more private level clinics who can do shorter wait lists for patients. These issues will be unfair especially for low income people and the urban population.
Pro: No Elaborate Bills, No Co-Pays and Almost No Paperworks
Just by reading the headline, by all means there are no elaborate bills you have no wonder what it means, no co-pays or deductibles, or any kind of medical paperworks inside Canada’s health care system. There is also no need to be involved with the billing and reclaim department. Hence, 30% of the financing itself are covered already under the private health expenses. In the meantime, there’s free of choice for any doctors, physicians and the hospitals you prefer. No lists of general practitioners or hospitals you need to be in for your specific area or home address, in other words, no restriction.
Note: One of our readers,Maureen Heath, mentioned that “your article “the pros and cons of Universal Health care in Canada. there are quite a few things you skipped over, like the best home care and palliative in North America.. pricing, wait times, etc. depends on what province you live in. Wait times? Never waited once in emergency in Alberta, In the US I have waited up to 15 hours. wait time for tests? it’s true, you normally don’t have to wait longer than a month for tests depending on where you live. if they socialize American health Care with this next election. I loved Canadian health care. My late husband had cancer, we spent three years in Red Deer, many times running up to the cancer institute in Edmonton. Unfortunately in the US, it’s all about big insurance companies, impersonal and you just become a number. both forms of health care have their pros and cons”
what % of gdp is spent on health dare
If you’re talking about Canada, 10% (to be precise, 10.4%)
I am fortunate enough to not have had any major health concerns. But I am still so grateful for the health care that we do have in Canada. Although prescriptions are not covered I still have access to my doctor whenever I need it and to emergency services, should I need them.
I’m also lucky to not have health concerns.
One thing I WILL say is this:
Living in Canada, I never have to stress. I always know that I have a healthcare system that will take care of me.
It’s like having a safety net. I hope I never have to use it, but knowing that it’s there helps me focus in life and stress less.
I think one PRO that is missing, is that having a universal health care system allows you to have improved mental health, for the reasons I’ve stated above.
When I’ve traveled to the states, I can feel a sense of anxiety and stress around – the fact that people live without health insurance, and a single mistake or illness could destroy their family’s financial situation for decades? Sounds like a terrifying nightmare.
Another thing – when I watch American TV, it’s just hilarious what the medical and pharmaceutical advertisements are like. Capitalism of healthcare services creates incentives for markets to lie, deceive, and manipulate information in order to increase profit.
Universal healthcare isn’t cheap, and it isn’t perfect. But in my opinion, it’s the best system to have.
Isn’t it a little ridiculous to think you “feel a sense of anxiety and stress around” when you came here and attributed it to a lack of universal healthcare? Just living in a big city anywhere can generate anxiety and stress, particularly commuting to and from work.
Many people are adequately insured and don’t worry about it. I only became insured after years of no insurance, in 2014. I didn’t worry about it before then, either. I’ve been going to the same primary care physician for several years and he only charges $45 and then $50 a visit. Prescriptions for the most part, are inexpensive, if they’re generic, and if I needed something more urgently or tests done, I had Urgent Care clinics, Planned Parenthood (which does routine testing as well as medical services), and emergency rooms in an emergency.
I have never had to wait for a doctor until I wanted to see a university doctor at a university clinic.
Evan, you are correct about American health services creating incentives to deceive and manipulate for profit. A few years ago my husband had open heart surgery. With insurance his hospital bill was around $200.000.00 Without insurance it was around $30,000.00. These hospitals are racking up on insurance companies. Could not believe the difference! As corrupt and greedy as our government is, I could never trust them to provide quality healthcare. They’ve helped themselves to most of our social security already. I don’t for one instant believe they would provide quality healthcare for seniors or vets here in America. I am proud that it’s working for your country.
As ours (USA) gets worse the Can NHS looks a lot more attractive… I’m paying more in taxes and health insurance than my Canadian counterparts are and getting worse service. They say the wait times are long. I’m having to make appointments 16 weeks in advance!
I guess it’s a question of national priority. The Canadians take care of their people, the USA runs around trying to be the worlds policeman, spending enormous amounts on never ending wars for no reason at all. And if your not lucky an illness can wipe you out financially…
What are y’all talking about? In Canada wait times are HUGE disadvantage to a Universal Healthcare System. Higher taxes, year long wait times, etc. It’s sad that no one above has mentioned this.
Here in the US, a large portion of my paycheck goes towards health insurance that A.) I might never use and B.) leaves with with copays and deductibles that I still have to pay when I visit the doctor. Either way, I’m giving up money to pay for healthcare, whether or not it goes to insurance companies or the government. I’d rather not pay when I go to the doctor.
um….. canada has free healthcare and thats good how is that a disadvantage?/???
and people in the US wont pay to go see the doctor just cause its too expensive. here in canada they will go see the doctor
Of course because they pay out the ass for scripts, I know because without insurance in the u.s. scripts are expensive and universal healthcare in canada does not pay for scripts, and product and cost of living is much higher there so, yeah, Canadians go to the doctor????????♂️
If it’s such a great system why do the Canadians flock to the U.S. for treatments for cancer and other such long term illness. Because they can’t afford to wait. They might be dead before they get any medical attention. I lived in a state that bordered Canada for 35 years and saw many Canadians at our hospitals. No thanks kept your Universal HealthCare
Yes you are right
But they go to US. And the Canadian Government pays for
NOT the patient
The article itself says priority illnesses come first. If u have cancer it is considered a priority disease but depending on the type of cancer (fast moving or metabolizing or quick to kill like colon cancer ) the wait times may be long. I feel that if I were to be put in that situation knowing that I had any form of cancer would make me panic and want medical attention ASAP. so I would spend the money to go somewhere that has no lines bc of the fact that many cant afford the high level care that said individual would be recieving. 2 points here. The USA has a higher density population than Canada. The fact that the canadians u saw would come into our borders to receive quick and high tier medical attention says our own people cant fill these medical centers due to the barriers of $$$. Americans are by no means healthier than canadians based on average population Stats. Secondly some cancers can stand to wait a bit in observation or delay heavy medical interventions like (chemo). This general trend of “u can wait a little” can apply to other diseases as well. I’m in Florida and my father desperately needed a kidney transplant that was already able to be donated. We had to fake extreme illness to set him up as priority. He was dying slowly and still urgency in the eyes of the hospital mattered. Over all I would prefer the Canadian health care system and would wish to improve upon it. Obviously is not perfect.
Some people can’t afford to wait. That’s also a problem with the US system. I know a young woman who got cervical cancer at 22, but her insurance wouldn’t cover it because she was “too young” to have cervical cancer. Nothing in her treatment was covered, she was in serious debt for the rest of her life, and now she’s dead because she could only afford certain treatments. At age 26.
Hi Ramona Ritchey ,
The excellent informative post you have shared on this page about the private health insurance by Dr. Allen contacted the Alberta Health Minister’s office and was able to expedite the discogram to September 2009. He arranged to have surgery in Montana in December 2009, but later cancelled this because surgery became available in Alberta in December 2009 (para 15). However, the Alberta date was later cancelled and re-set for June 2011 (para 14). Dr. Allen contacted the surgeon in Montana and was able to revive the December 2009 date in Montana and paid for the surgery himself. but you must use the services of health insurrance company which is helpful for you in the case of emergency otherwise you have face some financial problems at the time of discharge to complete the medical expenses of your patient treatment when you have enough money .
I live in the UK. There seem to be some misconceptions about our NHS. It is almost nationally agreed that if you have a need for urgent medical care the NHS is superb. If you have a heart attack or are in a car accident for example you will be quickly taken to hospital and be given superb care – very often by the same doctor or specialist that you would see if you were paying privately.
There is no doubt that if you have a chronic condition such as needing a hip replacement the waiting times can be long and I know from my wife’s experience that a hip problem can be extremely painful. For example it wouldn’t be unusual for a waiting time of 18 months for something like that. But that is the “price” we pay for having universal health care. At least every single person in the UK has access to emergency and semi emergency medicine and health care as a right.
You can also, as I do and am fortunate enough to be able to do, have a private health care policy running alongside the NHS. That costs me about £3,000 per year. So, if I needed a hip replacement I can be seen privately within days and have my operation very quickly in a private hospital or in a private room in the private wing of an NHS hospital. I’m fortunate to be able to make that choice. However, I can assure you that if I had an emergency or extremely serious problem I’d want to be initially seen in the NHS!
One of the things I’ve noticed when reading many of the posts especially from citizens of the U.S. (and I love the U.S. visiting at least 3 times a year) is the lack of compassion for those less fortunate. Not everyone has the capacity to have a job which pays for great private health care. There are those who are mentally ill. Some people had great health care but due to circumstances, which in many cases is through no fault of their own, their businesses failed and now they haven’t got health care.
Considering the US is meant to be such a deeply moral and religious country show some compassion for those large number of people who suffer illness and stress and cant afford health care for themselves and/or their families.
Surely caring for all members of society is worth more than extra on your taxes. And it wouldn’t be that much anyway.
Why do you have UHC for veterans? Because they’ve served their country. Well so have the coal miners and nurses and refuse collectors and pretty well most ordinary members of society. Don’t they deserve to be looked after by the richest greatest country in the world!
Finally regarding socialism. This is really the most ridiculous argument. None of the Western countries (and many of the others) that have UHC have “succumbed” to socialism unless by socialism you mean looking after all citizens equally.
Oh and I’ve voted the UK equivalent to Republican my entire life.
You have the U.S healthcare system all wrong. “Lack of compassion from Americans that can afford great private insurance”. That’s a joke. There is no such thing here in the U.S. In fact, it is the opposite! Those who can’t afford very expensive crappy private insurance get the best care available and it’s FREE to them. It is up to those who have the “crappy” private insurance, that pays taxes, to pay for those who get the FREE healthcare. A person who has worked their whole life and made a decent living will be placed in a nursing home as soon as they are unable to take care of their medications because they can’t see to read the bottles and they OD on their medicines accidently or they can’t get to the grocery store and have no family and they can’t afford RTEC to take them. Those people, they get thrown away to the system! However, those who haven’t worked a day in their life or those who unfortunately made just below the poverty line will get all the care they need and them some because they are getting Medicaid “FREE HEALTHCARE”. They can have cleaning services for FREE, nurses to come into home and fill their medication planners for FREE, aides to go to grocery store for them for FREE, take them to MD appts for FREE.
wilfred & ethel saulnier
if Canada had a totally paid health care system tax payers would be as better off as the government its self would be they would not be subject to medication costs soaring having it at a set rate and receiving only the proper medication by safety standards approval and so on only paying once annually a system which would allow anyone to receive medical care and meds ect. in any province they wished to be in more people may move where they wished and the jobs may pick up ,everything just may pick up and start thriving once again covering any meds you needed and surgeries you need , and everything needed by people to as wellas footwear glases,hearing aides,ambulance fees free and so on this would also give lots of hope to people to get moving, working they would no longer feel trapped with no hope , as im sure some do .
interest only mortgages
Health insurance is a topic most military members don’t have to think much about while they are serving. Their health care needs are taken care of them and their families so they can concentrate on their duties. But things change quickly once you remove your uniform for the last time.
if Canada had a totally paid health care system tax payers would be as better off as the government its self would be they would not be subject to medication costs soaring having it at a set rate and receiving only the proper medication by safety standards approval and so on only paying once annually a system which would allow anyone to receive medical care and meds ect. in any province they wished to be in more people may move where they wished and the jobs may pick up ,everything just may pick up and start thriving once again covering any meds you needed and surgeries you need , and everything needed by people to as wellas footwear glases,hearing aides,ambulance fees free and so on this would also give lots of hope to people to get moving, working they would no longer feel trapped with no hope
The excellent informative post you have shared on this page about the private health insurance by Dr. Allen contacted the Alberta Health Minister’s office and was able to expedite the discogram to September 2009. He arranged to have surgery in Montana in December 2009, but later cancelled this because surgery became available in Alberta in December 2009 (para 15). However, the Alberta date was later cancelled and re-set for June 2011 (para 14). Dr. Allen contacted the surgeon in Montana and was able to revive the December 2009 date in Montana and paid for the surgery himself. but you must use the services of health insurance company which is helpful for you in the case of emergency otherwise you have face some financial problems at the time of discharge to complete the medical expenses of your patient treatment when you have enough money .
If it’s such a great system why do the Canadians flock to the U.S. for treatments for cancer and other such long term illness. Because they can’t afford to wait. They might be dead before they get any medical attention. I lived in a state that bordered Canada for 35 years and saw many Canadians at our hospitals. No thanks kept your Universal HealthCare.
Hippocrates Health Institute
Health Canada still does not have a definition of a rare disease. They state that about 1 in 12 Canadians have a rare disease but later note that there is no common definition of an orphan drug to treat a rare disease. The agency cites 2 possible definitions – 1 from Europe (prevalence no more than 5 in 10,000 people) and 1 from the U.S. (less than 200,000 Americans) but Health Canada added a little twist to both of those definition
The USA insurance company and big pharmaceutical companies keep people in debt. The high monthly premiums with high deductible plus prescription cost are out of control. I don’t care what conrty you are in you should never have to chose between food, a roof over your head with heat and lights or meds. This is were i see people would want universal health care for all. They would have more money every month in there pocket. They wouldn’t have too worry and choose. I know people here in the usa that haven’t been to the doctor in 4 years because they cannot afford it. It would cost more to go to the doctor than they make especially the elderly. Obama care ACA you have to pay separately for eye hearing dental. And you have to wait a year before you can use it if you want it to cover anything. Between premiums, deductibles, copy and perscriptions people just can’t afford it.