Myths About Canadian Health Care

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Different countries have unique features in their health care system. Some are programmed to cater better to the needs of the rural people while some are better in emergency and urgent conditions. Most of the experts believe that the Canadian health care facilities are among the best in the world. Even then, people have a lot of ill formed myths about this particular facility.

Firstly, the biggest concern in the people’s mind is the tax that they have to pay.  On paper, Canadian taxes are higher than taxes in the United States, but, the people of Canada get a number of facilities which basically neutralizes the effects. They have cheaper higher education, family allowance and a lot of other things. Overall, while an American looses about 18.9 per cent of his income to tax while a Canadian looses 19 per cent. The difference is not as drastic as the people perceive it to be.

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People believe that this facility is a lot about paper work and that a huge chink of money is lost on paperwork and other related work. It is actually not so. On comparison to the United States, we find a startling result. In the US more than 30 per cent of every dollar spent goes into paper work and other miscellaneous activities while in Canada it is just about 1 per cent. Actually US have the most bureaucratic health care system in the world. Canada follows a single paper system which is very effective and cost efficient. Thus it minimizes the expenses incurred.

Another myth is that people think that the health care facility in Canada is very expensive. Since Canada spends only 10 per cent of GDP on health care while US spends 17 per cent, people think that facilities in Canada are cheaper. Actually although Canada is spending lesser amount of its GDP, it is covering all of its population. While in US more than 15 per cent of the population is not covered and the ones who are covered are usually under covered.

Unlike US where the government decides who gets health care and who does not, in Canada it is the physician who makes this decision. The government has no say on this issue. This makes the health care system very effective. In Canada the patient has the right to ask for treatment unlike US where the decision is made by the insurance administrator.

People also believe that the waiting time in Canada is higher. Actually, in Canada person gets instant treatment in urgent and emergency condition. Whereas, in rare cases then the time taken is much more. But this is not because of the amount of money that you have paid but because of the general unavailability of the service.

The silliest of myths is that Canada does not have enough number of doctors. Statistically Canada has a large number of physicians. One could use services of Canada 411 to confirm this fact. But, a large chunk of these physicians are engaged in urban areas, leaving rural areas unkempt for.

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kenshim says:

Thank you so much for this post. I am so happy to see an enlightened look at this old topic. The Canadian system has been getting a lot of flack in the States in the last year and it is largely unwarranted. The system works if you look at the most important stats. 100% of the people are covered. We pay less per capita for health care costs than many countries, especially the USA who actually has THE MOST EXPENSIVE HEALTH CARE SYSTEM IN THE WORLD. (I have a nice graph here: http://www.kenshim.com/index.php/2009/07/the-cost-of-health-care) Nobody will ever die because of being denied access to health care.

Wait times are often flogged and there is some truth to it. I have been to the emergency room for non life threatening illnesses and I literally gave up and went home after 5 or 6 hours of waiting…. but then again, did I actually need urgent care? NO. The nurse triaged me as she should have and gave priority to others who really needed the care. While I have heard many stories of waiting for hours in emergency, they have all been for hypochondria, non serious illnesses with relatively benign symptoms. People that go to emergency with life threatening symptoms are seen immediately.