Health systems everywhere are under financial strain--always have been and always will be. Canada certainly limits access to high technology and specialists by limiting investment in them upstream. The US does not, but citizens living in Canada are very unlikely to run into severe financial trouble because of their health--not so in the US. For those of you who will read this thread, please take under consideration that I am not part of the Canadian Health Care system and therefore I can only compile information based on research and not from personal experience. In addition I will offer information on how weaknesses of the US health care are sometimes skewed, but I will leave the critique by members of this board, I will only offer facts. So lets look first what I have compiled to be strengths and weaknesses in each system and we will run an in depth analysis of each:
THE CANADIAN HEALTH CARE SYSTEM
The Canadian health care system expresses the fundamental equality of Canadian citizens. The plan's coverage is comprehensive, universal, and accessible. Known as a "single payer" system, funding for medically necessary care is provided by the provincial governments through taxes (with guidance and some funds from the federal government). Patients are free to choose among providers, and physicians serve primarily in private practice on a fee-for-service basis. Hospitals are independent, nonprofit institutions overseen by boards of trustees.
Canada's health care system began as a grass roots action in Saskatchewan in the late '50s; by 1966 all provinces offered such plans.
The Plan's Strengths:
• All citizens have access to care; no one may be denied services on the basis of income, age, or health status.
• Benefits are the same for all citizens.
• The plan relies extensively on primary care physicians; 63 percent of all active physicians in Canada are in primary care.
• Canada achieves substantial administrative cost savings, since providers and insurers do not need to market themselves or employ vast staffs to process paperwork. Physicians bill the provinces directly and avoid the expense of verifying coverage, seeking approval to provide services, completing paperwork for multiple private insurers, or coping with double-billing and uninsured patients.
• Under a single payer, the provincial governments are able to set and enforce overall budgetary limits. Physician fee schedules are negotiated with the local medical associations and are binding; no additional billing is permitted.
The Plan's Weaknesses:
• Financing of Canada's health plan has been generous during periods of growth and tight when government must control its deficits.
• Access to some high-tech procedures has been limited by a shortage of equipment and hospital beds.
• Benefits are basic - only procedures deemed "medically necessary," are covered (e.g. optometrists and dentists may not be covered.)
• Cost over-runs - primarily in physician services - prompt provincial governments to increase cost controls, resulting in outcries of "rationing" by providers and, on several occasions, political uproars.
• Private insurance for covered care is not permitted because this would defeat the purpose of spreading the risk over the entire population. However, insurance is allowed to fill available niches, such as for dentistry, pharmaceutical drugs, and certain hospital services (i.e., private room charges).
• Long wait times for basic surgical procedures.
• In Canada, prescription costs are not generally covered except for those with low incomes. Private, employer insurance plans, or individual supplemental plans, usually cover prescriptions, with some deductibles and co-payments.
THE US HEALTH CARE SYSTEM
America does not have a "system" of health care as much as a tradition of laissez-faire practices that have developed over time. The central element is a financial arrangement that pays for health care services through employer-purchased insurance. Historically, patients have had the right to choose any physician, and physicians have been free to choose among specialties and to practice where and how they like.There are now more than 1200 private insurance companies in the US.
For some of the uninsured, the government pays for health care through Medicaid, the military, Native Americans, the Veterans Administration, and other state programs.
The System's Strengths:
• High-quality services are available for those with insurance.
• The US is at the forefront of clinical research.
• Major technological breakthroughs have occurred in treating numerous diseases.
• There are large numbers of physicians, especially specialists.
• Elderly Americans over the age of 65 are all covered under a universal program called Medicare
The System's Weaknesses:.
• 45 million Americans (17%), have no health insurance or coverage (the highest in the industrialized world).
• The cost of health care in the US is the highest per person in the industrialized world and growing the fastest.
• Administrative overhead is high - 19 to 24 percent of all health care costs, versus 11 percent in Canada.
There are so many issues to bring up it is vitually impossible to list them all, however this is a good start I found and what I have seen to be a very pressing issue on both sides of the border. I will first begin an analysis of the weaknesses of US Health Care. The first analysis I will be addressing is the uninsured Americans, I should have all the data compiled by tomorrow and begin that part of the debate. For those of you interested, take the time to think about the pros and cons of each system and by all means share your opinions.
Thanks and lets begin
P.S. Thanks to Vanni and Bluealberta I have spent dozens of hours reading the Romanow Report, Health Care Studies and statistics from various organizations on both sides of the border. So you two better take part in this :P