Thursday, July 23, 2009

Health Care In Canada vs. The United States

I am really tired of hearing Canada's Health Care system being dissed by folks in other countries. Our health care system is not perfect, but it is pretty damn good. Socialized health care -- gasp... At least we are not at the mercy of big business insurance and pharmaceutical companies, who play God and decide who will get the proper diagnosis, medical attention and health care, and who will not. No one should ever have to suffer or die because they cannot afford treatment. In the US, 60% of personal bankruptcies are due to medical bills, in Canada that percentage is zero. Zero percent. I read statistics about how inferior Canada's Health Care system is overall, but statisics can be skewed. In the United States, they have more diagnostic imaging machines per capita than they do in Canada. However, the diagnostic imaging machines are used more per capita in Canada than they are in the United States. That's just a small part of the statistics they fail to add. And Americans cross-border shop in Canada for medications, because we have the same medications here, and they are far less expensive. America has one of the highest incidence of type 2 diabetes, especially amongst children and young adults, and insulin for the treatment of diabetes was discovered by two Nobel Prize winning Canadian doctors, Sir Frederick Banting and Charles Herbert Best.

I'm not going to fill my rant post with meaningless statistics, but if you really want to read statistics, here are the latest statistics from the World Health Organization on the ranking of countries regarding longevity and overall medical care.


1 Japan
2 Australia
3 France
4 Sweden
5 Spain
6 Italy
7 Greece
8 Switzerland
9 Monaco
10 Andorra
11 San Marino
12 Canada
13 Netherlands
14 United Kingdom
15 Norway
16 Belgium
17 Austria
18 Luxembourg
19 Iceland
20 Finland
21 Malta
22 Germany
23 Israel
24 United States

Overall health care

1 France
2 Italy
3 San Marino
4 Andorra
5 Malta
6 Singapore
7 Spain
8 Oman
9 Austria
10 Japan
11 Norway
12 Portugal
13 Monaco
14 Greece
15 Iceland
16 Luxembourg
17 Netherlands
18 United Kingdom
19 Ireland
20 Switzerland
21 Belgium
22 Colombia
23 Sweden
24 Cyprus
25 Germany
26 Saudi Arabia
27 United Arab Emirates
28 Israel
29 Morocco
30 Canada
31 Finland
32 Australia
33 Chile
34 Denmark
35 Dominica
36 Costa Rica
37 United States of America

France has the best health care system in the world. American folks would be astonished at how good it is, and it is "socialized" health care. And the statistical results of their health care system shows in their World Health Organization rankings. If Americans want to continue being at the mercy of their insurance and pharmaceutical companies, that's their business. But they should not criticize other countries who do have superior health care systems, and use them as a "reason" not to have universal health care.


Cedar said...

The people who represent us are not about being productive, they are about making money and if that has to be at the cost of the sick and be it. Of course our government representatives have the best health care money can buy...taxpayer money.

Hilary said...

Perfectly stated.

SparkleFarkle said...

Health care: good, if you can get it. Maybe I should hang my hat in France. LOL!?

PhilipH said...

Interesting stats Jo.

Japanese people live longer than others yet their "healthcare" stats is not at the top of the list.

France is best for healthcare but third in the list of longevity.

More telling is that the USA is bottom in both of your lists!

Hmmm ... Verrrryy interestinggggg.

Charles Gramlich said...

My wife always speaks pretty highly of Canada's system, although she agrees it isn't perfect.

Judi said...

You must have been reading my mind! I thought about emailing you to ask your thoughts about Canada's health care system while I was watching our President's news conference last night. I rarely hear anything truly troubling about Canada or France's systems, except from the usual people whose job it is to promote fear. Our government officials have been talking about this my entire lifetime, actually five years before I was born. The current process isn't working so why not try something that might. Medicare (over 65) hasn't turned out so bad.

The Bug said...

Well said! I get so tired of all the inane arguments against a national healthcare plan. Especially as a bleeding heart liberal - healthcare isn't all about me, it's about EVERYONE & whether their needs are being met.

Land of shimp said...

Hey Jo, it's funny, I was just commenting the other day in an online setting that the residents of Canada should be allowed to line up and swiftly kick the shins of all the Republicans who are disparaging the heck out of Canada's system. This was following a blatantly false statement that socialized systems have (according to this bozo) "no antibiotics" and that Canada "holds a monthly lottery to see who is allowed to see a doctor" (both of those are courtesy of the raging Idiot, Beck on Fox News).

Please understand that most of us in the States understand that people like Beck are lying their backsides off. I've frequently pointed out that the World Health Organization ranks Canada above us in every way that counts.

We have a system where health is a privilege of wealth. It's a disgrace. There are many who feel it to be. I have health care insurance. I'm even in the tax bracket that will take the biggest hit for universal health care coverage and my response is: Bring it on. This needs to be fixed.

I'm glad you posted this because it was literally last night that I was having a real life discussion with our electrician about Canada. He's a bright fellow, very hard working. He is very much a working class Joe and he does not have health insurance through his job.

You know what he had to say about Canada's health care system? "I wish I could live there."

Our politicians and pundits on the conservative side are lying, and most of the actual citizens of the U.S. do know that.

I'm so sorry Canada is being frequently dragged into the mix as our country tries to fix our clearly broken, elitist health care system. It isn't right, and it isn't fair.

The Panorama said...

Wow, Norway is number 11 in the list... and France is number one...that just goes ot prove that socialised health care is indeed the best.
In norway too the reight wing politicians keep looking to the US for health care reforms. I hope we never "go American"health care.
I 'd rather pay extra taxes to the state than let private pharmaceutical companies make huge profits from my illness.

Love this post, Jo.

Nancy said...

I wonder if you've been seeing the television commercials they've been running down here? Unfortunately like everything else, it's become so politicized that they (mostly Republicans) just care about putting down the other side instead of working together to fix the problem. Insurance is quite a burden for my family since my husband is self employed and I just work part time. Almost my whole paycheck goes for paying for insurance with such a high deductible we'll never get any benefit from it unless something really catastrophic happens. They've got to try something different!!

Beyond the Nest said...

I'm from the U.S. but have lived in Canada. I'll take Canadian healthcare any day of the week. Although we are now back in the U.S. and have decent insurance, we are constantly reminded to that we're never a medical emergency away from bankruptcy. You summed it up quite well. Karen

Patty said...

My husband and I aren't among those criticizing health care in Canada. We wish we had it here. When I retired from working in the office at a school, I was able to apply for health insurance through the state. But in order to get that, I had to also be getting Medicare. Now, while I was working, now get this, when I turned 65, I was able to draw half of my husbands Social Security each month. I asked them why, they said because I was still working, and I said, but I don't pay into Social Security, I pay into the state, well they said, that's just the way it is. So for several years I drew half of husbands SS and it did not take anything away from his. I also didn't take out the Medicare insurance until I quit working, since I was paying for insurance through my workplace So when I retired, half of the husbands SS stopped, I was hoping there might be enough to pay my Medicare.NOPE, so every three months I have to write out a check for $289.20 They figured 2/3 of my retirment check, BEFORE ANYTHING IS TAKEN OUT, deducted that from half of his SS check and it wiped it out. I'm in what they call the offset. I was hoping for the windfall. Each month I have taken from my retirement check $384.67 for hospitalization for husband and myself. And in order to get it at that price, I have to have Medicare.
Each time we see a doctor, we have a $25.00 co-pay and each time we go into a hospital we have a $250.00 co-pay. Of course our prescriptions are separate, but we get them at a cheaper rate. $15.00 for a three month supply for generic and anywhere from $45.00 to $80.00 for a three month supply of a brand name. Sometimes I feel like it's a losing battle trying to stay healthy.

Nancy said...

Very well done!!! The US needs to wake up and smell the coffee. It's time to change. Change many things, not the least of which is to get rid of all the politicians that resist anything for the people. Heaven forbid that the people actually get anything for all those tax dollars we pay every year. We're too busy spending it on wars, and bailing out greedy bankers. But the politicians have very nice benefits, and ridiculous pension packages that cost taxpayers millions every year. Ghaaaa

Jennifer D said...

AMEN! Jo you said it perfectly. I am an American and I am so frustrated with our health care system and I so wish we would stop judging and start learning.

Anonymous said...

Amen!!! You'll never hear me critize anything about Canada. I haven't been able to afford health insurance for the last nine years. I rarely go to the doctor, but when I started having severe back problems in 2007, I wished I had been living in Canada. I did manage to pay for all the x-rays, the MRI, the meds. and the physical therapy...but it sure did increase my credit card debt. Maybe in my next life, I will be Canadian. :-)

Anonymous said...

And maybe in my next life, I'll be a better speller. I meant: criticize.

Avril Fleur said...

AMEN JO! You said it sister! I would not trade systems with the U.S. for ours in Canada EVER!! I am so grateful to know that if anything ever happens to me or another family member or friend or neighbour or coworker that money will be the least of our worries, and getting treatment and getting better will be at the top of the priority list. Money is rarely a consideration. Nor is losing your home to pay for life-saving treatment. The stress of being ill or injured is more than enough without it coming with financial woes as well.

I will be forever grateful to the Late Great Tommy Douglas (that's Kiefer Sutherland's maternal grandfather, for our American friends) for pioneering the way for Medicare for all Canadians!

JeannetteLS said...

Oh, how I wish Americans would get over themselves--OURSELVES--with the "We have the best healthcare system in the world." Learn from the many countries who serve their citizens so much better, develop a system that incorporates THOSE lessons into what would be a uniquely American one, sure. My guess is that every--horrors!--socialized or semi-socialized system of these higher rated countries has unique features, has unique benefits AND liabilities. I am so very tired of screaming into the wind about our lack of ANY system at all and our being at the mercy of a for-profit base of "service" delivery. Thank you for your entry.

Pascal said...

The French president, Sarkozy, is making every effort to catch up with the (Reagan's or GWB's) USA, and privatize every "socialized" system (healthcare, education, retirement, unemployement...) which had been built by the CNR (National Council of the Resistance) after WW2.
As usual in the name of saving money, but actually in the best interest of his sponsors.

C Hummel Kornell a/k/a C Hummel Wilson said...

Well said, Jo. Our system in the U.S. has been broken for too long. While I don't know what the answer is, it would seem that getting the 'special interest' groups under control, i.e., the big pharms and insurance companies, might be a good start. Our doctors, while they may rank among the best educated in the world, are so controlled by those two groups that for them to practice medicine based on their medical training and oath is impossible.

Even scarier is the CODEX debacle that is coming world wide in December of this year. Those of us who care to use natural remedies, herbs and, yes, even vitamins, will be stopped from doing so. All these approaches will fall under the guise of the big drug companies and will not be available for us to use at will. I wonder how many of our rights will need to be taken away before we finally stand up?

Lastly, I have only the highest respect for your country and its residents. I have some wonderful friends who live there or have dual citizenship and live here. Thanks for saying something that has been needed to be said.

Judi said...

Let me just say, WOW! These posts give me hope! I also hope those posting are contacting their representatives.

Russell said...

I have not had a chance to read all these comments, so what I say has probably already been said.

In a nutshell, insurance and pharmaceutical companies have been running the American medical system for decades.

I recently had a prescription refilled. The doctor talked to me for less than one minute. My insurance company was billed $150 and I had to pay $10 as a co-payment.

The hospital makes money because the insurance company pay out an unreasonable amount of money.

The insurance company gets premiums from employers for group insurance policies. And because not an overly large percentage of people file claims, the insurance companies, pharmaceuticals and hospitals all make a lot of money.

Of course they don't want to adopt anything else! Too many people are making too much money! Sigh....

Paula Slade said...

Thank you Jo for saying it like it really is - our health care system here in the United States is based on a profit model and not true care for the individual. It's shameful, but I am hopeful it will change.

Anonymous said...

I think health care must be constantly debabted the world over. Here in Australia we also have a socialized system and while not perfect it is at least fair and universal, I can't imagine how some families survive in the system America uses. Fair and equitable health care should be a primary responsibility of a compassionate and civilised society. Interesting post.

Carol E. said...

I don't know why a person can say "socialized ___ (fill in the blank)" here in the U.S. and it strikes such fear in the hearts of (almost) everyone. It's absurd. I wish I could move to canada.

Marguerite said...

You are so right, Jo. I worked in Health Information Management for 10 years and I "saw it all"! From the greedy pharmaceutical companies, to the over-prescribing medication, to the Medicare fraud, to the unnecessary surgeries, and the list goes on. It's almost a curse to have health insurance in the U.S. because of the abuse that goes on. I think that we should switch to a system like Canada or France because we surely could not be worse off than if we don't.

~Brittainy said...

We need universal health coverage, what is the point of having all the technology and the medicine if we can't use it.

Ruby Isabella said...

Great point! I suddenly became very patriotic to see Australia number two on the list of longevity. Maybe we should have a health and education olympics. Patriotic pride might spur countries to do better. And do what works, not according to ideology.

Kathryn said...

No doubt, our system in the U.S. is bad. But it is going to get worse. And, we cannot compare what is coming here to what you have in Canada or France, because the pharmaceutical companies & other special interest groups have already set prices. They will try to continue the same thing we already have but making the gov't (taxpayers) foot the bill.

I'm not dissing Canada, but what will be proposed here is not comparable.

Wish there was more freedom for alternative medicine, which i think would be a very GOOD thing.

Deedee said...

Thank you, Jo! Well put, as usual. I think Canada is great. I would LOVE to have socialized medicine. My husband is self-employed and I am out of work...our health insurance is so expensive we cannot afford it much longer. I am hoping and praying that Pres. Obama gets something done soon, but the Republicans are doing everything they can to foil him. They care more about playing politics than helping the average person.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

I am in despair cause Malaysia seems to be following after the U.S model for healthcare. Having experienced Canadian Health Care, I think it's superior. Sure there will be problems with any system but I believe in balance that it is certainly the best I have encountered. (of course, I haven't been to France due to visa problems but that is material for a different rant!)

Kathy's Klothesline said...

It is all politics and money here in the good old USA. Greed dictates and we all suffer. We are an arrogant country, thinking we know so much better than any other country. We offer assistance to what we consider lesser societies and are so busy patting ourselves on the back that we no longer see that our citizens are the ones in need of assistance....... When I say "we" I am referring to our "leaders".

Firefly said...

Our public health system is very low on the list while our private health care system is very high. Which means that if you have a private medical aid you are in good hands.

Thiea Arantxa said...

Well our country's health care sucks. We have the most corrupt government =(
Good for you, Jo. ^^

the walking man said...

Jo...You do understand that Canada is the "tennis ball" of convenience for the debate here don't you? Meaning most Americans can relate to Canada because you are like us in looks and nearness.

The entire dissing of the Canadian health care system is not done by the people of America but the the corporate lobbyists doing what they do. Inspire fear and doubt because their masters profit is at risk.

My and my wife's Canadian relatives have had no major complaint about their health care, although there was one ancient aunt who was held off in a surgery for a month or two until some necessary specialist became available to do the slicing and dicing.

If the Canadian health care system is in such a shambles I wonder why the lobbyists worked for and got border state legislators to stop us from getting our prescriptions filled across the river...Certainly it wasn't because we would have saved about 50% on the cost of them.

Don't get so up in arms JO just consider the base source of the criticism. And it is not Joe six pack.

tinkerbell the bipolar faery said...

Health care in the USA is for-profit ... it's not all about the dr making a treatment plan for a patient based upon his medical knowledge, the results of medical test done, etc. It's based upon what the Insurance Companies will approve ... your post makes me wonder ~ perhaps the waiting times can be partially linked to the fact that the Insurance Companies deny requests for MRIs, etc ... and in Canada that stuff doesn't happen. And hey, when pt is in hospital, acutely ill, no such waiting times ... it all happens within days.

Yes the Europeans have excellent health care ... but they pay taxes for it ... more than us, I believe ... I mean, they don't ever expect or hope for a 'tax return' each year when they do their taxes ...

In the end, one gets what one pays for ... the USA obviously has different spending and social priorities.

And, yeah ... I always HATED listening to Walter Cronkite constantly dissing Canada's Health Care Sytem, any chance he got ... not cool.

Putra said...

I really hope that Indonesia had a better health care..*sad*

Leah Fry said...

Good for you for speaking up, Jo. I am fortunate to have employer-provided health insurance, but freelancing friends of mine who do not spend upwards of 25% of their income on buying it privately.

Well said, as always.

Carl said...

Jo I agree with you 100%. Healthcare in the US is broken and we need radical change. I applaud the presidents eforts in this area, but nothing happens that quickly here. We shall have to wait and see if any real changes comes out of it.


Living Day to Day with Multiple Sclerosis said...

Wow, I just commented on another blog that moving to Canada might be the answer to help with the costs of prescriptions. I should have read your blog first!!! Thanks for the info!

pranksygang said...

You are absolutely right dear!!! i love France and i'm Glad to know that its in the top ! thanks for the info Jo!

Jo said...

Thank you, everyone, for your brilliant comments. I plan to do more posts about this in the future, because it is something I feel very strongly about. It is not directed towards the American people, but towards the companies who are criticizing Canada's health care. And don't forget, when folks say "Government has no business being involved in medical care" remember that YOU are the government. You elect these folks to do a job for you. You make the decisions. You are the government.

Country Girl said...

We need something good to happen. We are at the mercy of the insurance and pharmaceutical companies, that's for sure. We have lost our savings after my husband lost his job because of a brain tumor. It's not the end of the world, but I can now see first hand why people would need to declare bankruptcy. 62% of them are medically related in the US. Luckily, we're not there yet.

The Promiscuous Reader said...

It's probably a good idea to remember that the overwhelming majority of Americans -- around 70% in the polls -- favor single-payer or other "socialized" systems. This despite decades of well-funded, one-sided propaganda against them. We Americans aren't as easily spooked as some folks seem to think.

It's our rulers, and the corporate media, who don't want effective health care in the US. That includes Barack Obama, over whom there was so much adulatory slobbering when he was elected a few months ago, and who has shown himself to be a faithful corporate servant. (So much for the right wingers who have been screaming that he's a socialist; far from it, he's a Republican, the third Bush term.)

The real question, then, is how can Americans make our government do its job, and Obama the job we elected him to do? One blogger pointed out that most Americans probably believed the propaganda that Obama was an extreme leftist, and we elected him anyway, so where's our Commie Revolution? We voted for it! We want it!

jay dee said...

Hi Jo.We in Britain enjoy a National Health Service,or NHS,which is free at the point of entry. It was a Welsh Labour Politician called Anuerin Bevan who was,in 1948 responsible for the etablishment the NHS after a century of discussions.Britain saw health care as crucial to one the'five giants '(want,disease,squalor ignorance,idleness).Canada can be proud of it's health service just as we in Britain are proud of ours,although there are certain people how would like to see the introduction of the American system which is run by the pharmaceutical and health insurance industries who like to spread horror stories about the consequences health service not based on insurance cotributions.

Mean Mama said...

Well said Jo. Socialism is a dirty word in America reminiscent of WWII. Americans love capitalism and the thought of government controlling anything in our lives is a very scary thought. We love our individualism even if it costs us a lot of money. I think that is why many people are afraid of any sort of government run healthcare no matter how well it works in other countries. That said, our healthcare system does not work, is run by greed and corruption, and has to be fixed. Conservatives will continue to use the word "socialism" because it scares people. What Americans need to do is pick up a few history books and learn that our public school system is socialism. It was fought in the 1800s by conservatives who claimed that it would destroy freedom and capitalism. They claimed that private schools would educate the best Americans and that the schools should have the freedom to teach as they pleased and charge what they wanted.

C S said...

Hi Jo,

Great post. IMO the American attitude is part of a broader issue; i.e., we are the best and we are superior, even if we don't have all the facts about the rest of the world.


I wrote my own view of this here:

As an expat corporate manager, I got tired of the combination of "we're the best" and "we don't know about what life is like in the rest of the world". It's those two things together that get to me.

My partner Clive has asked me where this attitude comes from. It's hard to explain. I was born and raised in the U.S. and it is instilled in us at every level -- we are blessed, we are the best, everyone wants to be like us, we are superior, blah blah blah. Things are changing for the better now, I think, for many reasons -- technology and blogging included! - but gosh, it's sometimes hard to be outside the U.S. and sit quietly when those who are otherwise educated and kind make rubbish assertions or criticize other countries for this or that.

*Steps off soapbox*

Thanks for a great post!


eva said...

Very well said. Thanks for the stats. I am quite familiar with the Bulgarian healthcare system (socialized), and also while not perfect, I've never heard of a single Bulgarian friend or relative worrying about paying their medical bills or the threat of bankruptcy due to a medical condition, it’s just unheard of. My dad recently had major surgery and on going treatments in the US and you would not believe the amount of paperwork and bills that come in on a daily basis. I think that added stress can really interfere with one’s wellbeing and recovery.

Green Spiral Dragon said...

In the US, 60% of personal bankruptcies are due to medical bills, in Canada that percentage is zero. Zero percent.We need to stop asking what is the cost of public health care and ask what is the staggering cost of having all these people who are not covered.

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