Canada among high­est health-care spenders yet ranks near bot­tom on num­ber of doc­tors, hos­pi­tal beds and wait times

The Southwest Booster - - OPINION - FRASER IN­STI­TUTE

De­spite spend­ing more on health care than the ma­jor­ity of de­vel­oped coun­tries with uni­ver­sal cov­er­age, Canada has a rel­a­tively short sup­ply of doc­tors and hos­pi­tal beds—and the long­est wait times, finds a new study re­leased to­day by the Fraser In­sti­tute, an in­de­pen­dent, non-par­ti­san Cana­dian pub­lic pol­icy think­tank.

“There is a clear im­bal­ance be­tween the high cost of Canada’s health-care sys­tem and the value Cana­di­ans re­ceive,” said Bac­chus Barua, as­so­ciate di­rec­tor of health pol­icy stud­ies at the Fraser In­sti­tute and co-author of Com­par­ing Per­for­mance of Uni­ver­sal Health Care Coun­tries, 2018.

The study com­pares 28 uni­ver­sal health­care sys­tems in de­vel­oped coun­tries, spot­light­ing sev­eral key ar­eas in­clud­ing cost, avail­abil­ity and use of re­sources, ac­cess to care and treat­ment, clin­i­cal per­for­mance and qual­ity, and the health of Cana­di­ans.

In 2016, the most re­cent year of com­pa­ra­ble data, Canada’s health-care spend­ing as a share of GDP (11 per cent) ranked fourth high­est—af­ter ad­just­ing for age—be­hind only Switzer­land, France and Nor­way.

But again, de­spite the high cost, avail­abil­ity and ac­cess to med­i­cal re­sources in the Cana­dian health-care sys­tem is gen­er­ally worse than in the com­pa­ra­ble coun­tries.

For ex­am­ple, Canada ranks 26th (out of 28 coun­tries) for the num­ber of doc­tors (2.7 per 1,000 peo­ple) and 25th (out of 26) for the num­ber of hos­pi­tal beds (2.1 per 1,000 peo­ple).

More­over, Canada ranks 22nd (out of 27) for the num­ber of Mag­netic Res­o­nance Imag­ing (MRI) ma­chines with 9.9 MRI scan­ners per mil­lion peo­ple, and 21st (out of 27) for CT scan­ners with 15.6 per mil­lion peo­ple.

Con­versely, Canada’s record for use med­i­cal re­sources and the qual­ity of clin­i­cal per­for­mance, com­pared to the other coun­tries, is mixed.

But as for wait times, among the 10 com­pa­ra­ble coun­tries with uni­ver­sal health care for which data is avail­able, Canada ranks last with the high­est per­cent­age of pa­tients (30 per cent) who waited two months or longer to see a spe­cial­ist, and the high­est per­cent­age of pa­tients (18 per cent) who waited four months or longer for elec­tive surgery.

“Canada’s health-care sys­tem con­tin­ues to strug­gle with rel­a­tively few crit­i­cal med­i­cal re­sources and long wait times for treat­ment, de­spite high lev­els of spend­ing,” Barua said.

“To im­prove Canada’s health-care sys­tem, pol­i­cy­mak­ers should learn from other suc­cess­ful uni­ver­sal health-care coun­tries, for the ben­e­fit of Cana­di­ans and their fam­i­lies.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.