Comparison of United States to Canada Healthcare Systems Thesis

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Candian vs. U.S. Healthcare

Many similarities exist between the Canadian and U.S. healthcare systems under both systems, citizens share the cost of healthcare with the government. In this respect, the Canadian system is much more liberal with it spending on healthcare. In the United States, The citizen must bare a majority of the healthcare. This research discusses the positive and negative affects of healthcare in the and Canada.

Economic Comparison

The Public-Private Issue 4

Access and Quality of Service

US or Canadian Healthcare System: A Comparison

The ailing healthcare system in the United States has been a topic of concern for many years. However, the recent recession brought this volatile situation to a boiling point. With many Americans now facing loss of jobs and other financial difficulties, many are left without healthcare. This is a key concern for an industrialized nation, such as the U.S., where healthcare is ranked as a basic necessity of life. Many solutions to the problem have been proposed, including plans to adopt a national healthcare system based on that, which currently exists in Canada. The verdict is still out as to which system is better. The following will present a side-by-side comparison of the Canadian and U.S. healthcare systems.

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Thesis on Comparison of United States to Canada Healthcare Systems Assignment

On a macro-level, the U.S. spends more on healthcare per capita than Canada (OECD, 2009). According to the OECD, the same is true when one considers it as a percentage of the GDP (OECD, 2009). In 2006, nearly 70% of all health care spending in Canada was financed by the government. In the U.S., the government only financed 46% (WHO, 2008). In 2005, health expenditures comprised 17.5% of all Canadian government spending. In the same year, expenditures on health care represented 21.8% of the total U.S. government expenditure (WHO, 2008). It appears from these statistics that as a percentage, the U.S. And Canada dedicate approximately the same amount of their total budget to healthcare. Yet, it appears that Canada is able to cover a larger portion of its needed healthcare expenditures than the United States. The reasons for this are not certain, but they do seem to indicate vast differences in the manner in which the monies are utilized.

When one compares differences in out of pocket expenditures, Americans spend 23.9% of their income on healthcare. Canadians spend more than twice that, averaging 48.7% in out of pocket expenditures (Who, 2008). These statistics paint a different picture of the economics of healthcare finance than the government expenditures would have one to believe. It appears that the Canadian government is more efficient in its use of public funds, but the private citizen must bear a greater burden than the average American citizen. It is difficult to determine which is the better method for paying for healthcare. Both the Canadian and U.S. system place a great burden on the citizens.

The economics of healthcare have differing affects in Canada and in the United States. However, the real question is not how much they spend, but whether they are getting a good value for their money. Many different methods could be used to determine the value of the healthcare system as a whole. For instance, one could look at life expectance and infant mortality as key indicators of the system's performance. If one looks at these figures, Canadians have an average life expectancy of 80.34 years, versus 78.6 for their U.S. counterparts (WHO, 2000). Infant mortality is also lower in Canada (WHO, 2000). However, it is arguable as to whether these indicators tell the entire picture of the healthcare system. Many other variables could affect these outcomes, such as lifestyle, diet, or the effectiveness of public awareness campaigns on the benefits of exercise. The World Health Organization ranks Canada 30th and the U.S. 37th in the ability of the system to respond to the needs of their citizens (WHO, 2000).

The Public-Private Issue

Until the mid 1960s, Canada and the U.S. had similar funding mechanisms for their healthcare systems (Szick, Angus, & Nichol et al., 1999). It is a misnomer that the Canadian system is "socialist." This term refers to systems such as that in the UK where 100% of the healthcare is public delivery and subsidized. The Canadian system is a single payer system where the provincial governments support funding for healthcare services, as long as the procedure is one that is covered by Medicare. They also provide assurances that private insurance is 100%, with no out of pocket co-pays or expenditures for the consumer. Eye care and dental services account for a majority of out of pocket services in Canada (Irvine, Ferguson, & Cackett, 2005).

In Canada, as in the U.S., doctors are in the private sector. Hospitals are controlled by private boards and are not considered a part of the government. One of the key differences between the U.S. And Canadian system is that the U.S. system only provides funded services for a limited segment of the population. They provide for those that are eligible for Medicare, Medicaid, State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), or those eligible for services through the Veteran's Administration. The numbers of persons who cannot afford private insurance, but that do not qualify for subsidized services is a key problem with the U.S. system. Many cannot afford healthcare at all, with only 25% of all uninsured eligible for subsidized programs (Holohan, Cook & Dubay, 2007). The amount of healthcare and the extent of government funding is a key difference between the systems of Canada and of the United States.

For those who do not qualify for government funded healthcare programs in the United States, they must pay for it themselves. Only 59% of all Americans have access to healthcare through their employer. However, the amount paid out of pocket by the employee varies greatly (U.S. Census Bureau, 2008). Those who are unemployed or self-employed must pay for it themselves. Many cannot afford to do so. This is where the U.S. And Canadian system differ, The Canadian service is 69-75% publicly funded, although most of the services are obtained through private providers (OECD, 2008). Canada does not have the huge gap in uninsured that the U.S. does.

In Canada, services are funded publicly, but delivered privately. Many of the same restrictions apply that are applicable to those insured through certain private and public insurance plans in the United States. For instance, cosmetic or optional procedures are not covered by publicly funded plans in Canada. Many private plans in the United States do not cover them either. Optometry may or may not be covered in Canada, depending on the province in which one lives (Coverme, n.d.). In the United States, the prescriber must often pay for these services in addition to basic insurance coverage.

Canada regulates prescription prices, therefore name brand drugs are cheaper in Canada (Paris & Docteur, 2006). This is not the case in the United States, where the open market still continues to drive pharmaceutical prices. In many cases, the insurers will only pay up to a certain price and the patient must make up the difference between the insured price and the actual price of the prescription, In some cases, the price can be astronomical. For certain diseases, the patient must either pay the price, or place their lives in jeopardy. This is a tough choice for many American consumers. Canadian consumers seldom have to worry about such a case.

Access and Quality of Service

Medical debt is the culprit behind one in six bankruptcies in the U.S. (CBS Staff, 2009). The lack of funding for medical services is a key problem for private citizens in the United States. Access to healthcare is a key issue in the United States. It is estimated that as many as one quarter of uninsured in the United States go without needed medical treatment or fail to fill their prescriptions due to the costs involved (Lasser, Himmelstein & Woolhandler, 2006). Many Americans do not have access to needed healthcare. The U.S. does not guarantee universal healthcare, which leaves many without, unless one happens to fall into one of the categories that can receive publicly funded services. For the rest of the population, they either have to pay or do without. Access to healthcare is a problem in the Untied States.

In the first years of the 20th century, the U.S. enacted the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA). Under this act, an emergency room must provide stabilizing treatment for a bonafide emergency, regardless of proof of insurance coverage or their patients' ability to pay (Miller, 2009). However, the patient is still responsible for their portion of the bill and the hospital can take any normal measures to collect from the patient. In Canada, emergency room treatment is not charged to the patient, but the entire bill is met by the government. There is no need for such an act as EMTALA in Canada. Emergency room treatment is a basic right of every Canadian citizen.

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