An Issue of Health Care


As an American citizen that is now living in Canada, I am privilege to seeing two different health care systems that are often compared to one another.  While both systems (actually every system) have their flaws, one runs much more efficiently than the other.  Several weeks ago I posted Canadian Monthly Premiums for Health Insurance, and as anyone can see, those premiums are very affordable and they are indexed based on income.

The cost of health care in the U.S. is staggering and only getting worse.  From KaiserEdu.org:

Since 2001, employer-sponsored health coverage for family premiums have increased by 113%, placing increasing cost burdens on employers and workers.

Also from Kaiser:

Health expenditures in the United States neared $2.6 trillion in 2010, over ten times the $256 billion spent in 1980.

Okay, so we know that health care costs are skyrocketing.  Yesterday I read an article in the New York Times discussing a documentary called The Waiting Room.  The article has a short video clip that focuses primarily on waiting times in America’s emergency rooms.

The Waiting Room Video Clip

These waiting rooms are where most of the uninsured (40+ million citizens) go to get any health care at all.  There are extremely long wait times and the un or under-insured are not privilege to any type of preventative care.  They are seen only when their circumstances become dire.  How does this happen in the wealthiest country in the world?  Are these people not worthy of good health care?

You are never denied health care in Canada.  You go to the doctor (yes, you can get in the same day), you get your care, you go home.  There is no bill that follows you.  There are no deductibles.  There are no co-pays…no 80/20 splits of any kind.  You pay your monthly premium and that is it.  Oh yes, taxes are higher here, but when you ask Canadians about government spending and proposed cuts to health care, they will always fight any cuts.  It is not a political issue at all.

So what is the cost per capita for health care?  The following list is from OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development):

Rank Country Total
health
expenditure
per capita
PPP US$
Total
health
expenditure
% of
GDP
1  United States 7,960 17.4
2  Norway 5,352 9.6
3  Switzerland 5,144 11.4
4  Netherlands 4,914 12.0
5  Luxembourg 4,808 7.8
6  Canada 4,363 11.4
7  Denmark 4,348 11.5
8  Austria 4,289 11.0
9  Germany 4,218 11.6
10  France 3,978 11.8
11  Belgium 3,946 10.9
12  Ireland 3,781 9.5
13  Sweden 3,722 10.0
14  Iceland 3,538 9.7
15  Australia 3,445 (2008) 8.7 (2008)
16  United Kingdom 3,487 9.8
17  Finland 3,226 9.2
18  Italy 3,137 9.5
19  Spain 3,067 9.5
20  Japan 2,878 (2008) 8.5 (2008)
21  Greece 2,724 (2007) 9.6 (2007)
22  New Zealand 2,983 10.3
23  Portugal 2,508 (2008) 10.1 (2008)
24  Slovenia 2,579 9.3
25  Israel 2,104 7.9
26  Czech Republic 2,108 6.8
27  Slovakia 2,084 9.1
28  Korea, South 1,879 6.9
29  Hungary 1,511 7.4
30  Poland 1,394 7.4
31  Estonia 1,393 7.0
32  Chile 1,186 8.4
33  Turkey 902 (2008) 6.1 (2008)
34  Mexico 918 6.4

As you can clearly see, the United States spending per capita is nearly double that of Canada.   The other staggering figure is the total health cost as a percentage of GDP, over 17%!   So where does the American health care dollar go?

Data from KaiserEdu.org.

The U.S. health care system is broken.  Americans must buy insurance for their vehicles, but not for health care.  It doesn’t make sense.  A government run system will work (it does work – ask ANY other industrialized, developed nation in the world).   I applaud Obama for pushing so hard on this particular issue.  The obstacles to establishing a health care system for all citizens are not ones that are insurmountable.  Hopefully, the Supreme Court will see the bigger picture when deciding the fate of the Affordable Health Care Act.  The United States of America needs to start spending their money on health care and education (a topic for another post and very near and dear to my heart), and stop spending it trying to bomb and build nations overseas.  The citizens of the United States deserve much better than the government is giving them.

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9 responses to “An Issue of Health Care”

  1. ricksravings says :

    As a Canadian I am baffled by the US’s fear of anything that may be twisted into a hint of the dreaded socialism. When the number one reason for personal bankruptsies in the US (may now have been passed by a lack of banking laws) is from health care costs, it seems odd that a country seemingly bright enough to grasp simple concepts would want to fix this. There are many examples around the world of socialized medicine is successful. If Canada’s socialized medicine is as bad as some of your politicians say it is, why then do Canadians overwhelmingly defend our medicare system with such passion and not want to rid ourselves of such an evil institution. Like I said in an earlier posting, Tommy Douglas is the founder of our medicare system in Canada, and he is held in very high esteem by politicos of all political stripes in Canada.

  2. Jueseppi B. says :

    Reblogged this on The ObamaCrat.Com™ and commented:
    Thius is vital information…share and pass it along please. Thank you “thejumbledmind”.

  3. Tea Party Slayer says :

    Excellent information. I’ve seen your past posts on healthcare as well. Participating in both systems, you have a unique, personal, and insightful perspective. I hope you continue to post more experiences and comparisons on this topic in the future.

    With Obamacare we’re talking about a reasonable market-based solution, and special interests have even successfully turned that into a “government boogeyman” scenario. Unfortunately, weakened by blue-dogs and Lieberman, the meat of Obamacare is phased in after the election; yet another example of Obama willing to risk political damage to get things done for people.

  4. newsofthetimes says :

    Canada’s system sounds marvelous! Thanks for the education.

  5. DPax says :

    maxteichelberger, you are the first person to comment on anything I’ve written and I thank you for your response.

    My post, which is intended to be tongue-in-cheek (I arrived at work early and haven’t proof-read, yet), was written in response to the contentious, non-compromising attitude of the so-called conservatives in local, state and national politics. I would NEITHER endorse debtors prison nor people being kept from enjoying any public park, etc. However, I did accomplish my purpose: to mimic the sociopathic attitude of the political extremists who represent the far right in their speeches and their writings.

  6. Rutherford says :

    This is a great article I’d like to know more about quality of outcomes US v Canada. Opponents of “Obamacare” claim we already have the best health care system in the world. Personally, I doubt it. This article deals well with waiting time and cost. Now quality of care would be the next topic to handle.

  7. Rutherford says :

    Reblogged this on Leaning Left and commented:
    An excellent article from an American living in Canada.

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