Health care in US and Canada compared

I doubt this will surprise regular readers of this blog, but Canada’s single payer health system isn’t all that Michael Moore makes it out to be. From a new report of the Fraser Institute:

On a comparable basis, Canadians have fewer doctors and less high-tech equipment than Americans. Canadians also have older hospitals and have access to fewer advanced medicines than Americans. Health care appears to cost less in Canada than in the United States partly because Canadian government health insurance does not cover many advanced medical treatments and technologies that are commonly available to Americans. If Canadians had access to the same quality and quantity of health care resources that American patients enjoy, the government health insurance monopoly in Canada would cost a lot more than it currently does.

Not only do Canadians have fewer health care resources than Americans, experience also shows that the Canadian health system is not financially sustainable in the long run. Ever since the single-payer system was established in Canada in the early 1970s, government spending on health care has grown faster than the ability of governments to pay for it. In Ontario, Canada’s largest and most populated province, health spending will soon consume close to half of all government revenues.

Another false economy of the Canadian health system is the money saved by delaying access to necessary medical care. Canadian patients wait much longer than Americans for access to medical care. In fact, Canadian patients wait much longer than what their own doctors say is clinically reasonable (Esmail and Walker, 2007b). Many Canadian patients wait so long for treatment that, in practical terms, they are no better off than uninsured Americans. In Canada, the government promises everyone that they have health insurance coverage for all medically necessary goods and services; but, in reality, access to treatment is often severely limited or restricted altogether.