Healthcare Canada Essay

Pages: 6 (1953 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 6  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Healthcare

¶ … Health Care Systems

Comparison of Canadian and American Health Care Systems

The purpose of this paper is to examine the relative merits of the Canadian and American health care systems in an attempt to determine what the future of health care might be in the United States. The present system is dying under the weight of increasing costs and limited access and cannot long continue as is it presently formulated. As the United States is one of only a few nations still operating under a system where the costs of health care are shouldered by employer-based insurance plans it is time to examine the American system of health care and this paper will attempt to consider the options.

Table of Contents

Abstract

Introduction

Review of Literature

Discussion

Conclusion

Recommendations

Bibliography

Introduction

The delivery of health care in the United States has come under considerable attention in the past few years. There are concerns that the costs of such care is spiraling. This concern has raised the interests of many sectors of society and comparing the present system of health care in the United States with other nation's health care systems has become a popular method of balancing what might be the available options.

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In 2008, per capita spending for health care in the United States was nearly double that in Canada; in the U.S. It totaled $7,538, in Canada it was $4,079 (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2010). Further comparisons between the two nations reveal that life expectancy is longer in Canada than the U.S., its infant mortality rate is lower than that of the U.S. And the World Health Organization ranks Canada 30th among the 191 nations that are members of the organization while ranking the U.S. As 37th. The same organization ranks the general health of Canadians as 35th while they rank the U.S. As 72nd (World Health Organization, 2000). (WHO no longer produces these rankings due to complexity of the task).

TOPIC: Essay on Healthcare Canada Assignment

What do these figures mean and what makes a health care system good? These are questions that must be asked and answered in order to determine the future of health care in America. The answers are complex and involve making hard decisions but the system in America, as it presently exists, cannot continue. Hopefully, comparing the two systems may provide some answers and possible solutions to a very acrimonious and difficult social issue.

Review of Literature

As is so often the case on issues of a complex nature, there is no consensus on how the United States should proceed on the issue of health care. Expert after expert offers his opinion. Offers his version of the statistics and offers his suggestions but there is no clear path.

The primary problem in America is that there has never been any real attempt at developing a health care system. The system that has developed has done so under the traditional economic theory known as laissez-faire. The medical profession, the insurance companies, and the nation's employers, who have been shouldering most of the burden of paying for health care, have been content to allow the system to proceed, as is, for several decades. Under the existing system patients have enjoyed the right to choose their own physician, and physicians have been free to practice whatever specialty they wanted and to operate their practices wherever and however they choose. For some time now the system worked well for everyone, however, technology and economic factors have made maintaining the status quo inefficient.

Canada and the United States had similar health care systems in the years subsequent to the Second World War and into the late 1960's but at said time the Canadian government and taxpayers decided to take their health care system in a different direction. The health care system that existed in the United States and Canada in the years following the Second World War and into the 1960's was based upon employment-based insurance plans (Fuchs, 2006). The theory behind such system was that the use of such plans was the best method for keeping costs low and guaranteeing payment of rising health costs. In the years following the Second World War when the economies of both nations were expanding the system worked well but as economies softened and health care costs continued to escalate the Canadian government and taxpayers decided that a different approach was necessary while in America the status quo was maintained despite overwhelming evidence that employment-based insurance plans were and ineffective method for delivering health care (Eve, 1995). While the rest of the industrialized world pursued new approaches to the delivery of health care, the United States stood firm in their approach (Boychuk, 1999). The United States is the only country in the developed world that continues to rely upon employer-based insurance coverage and lacks a fundamentally publicly funded health care system (Gould, 2007).

Aside from the fact that the United States remains on the horizon as one of the few nations still relying upon employer-based insurance the question still remains as to how the two systems, Canadian and American, compare. Neither system is perfect. Both have their advantages and disadvantages and it is incumbent upon decision makers to review the plans and, hopefully, determine how best to proceed in the future.

America's health care system offers high quality services for those with good insurance or unlimited resources. The physicians and facilities in the United States are the best in the world for those who can afford it. The United States is at the forefront of clinical research and their medical facilities are equiped with the most advanced technology available. The best trained and most skilled specialists practice in the United States. For the wealthy and well insured there is no better place to seek treatment. The reality, however, is that this is not the case for everyone.

At least fifteen percent of the United States population, approximately 47 million people, have no health insurance with one third of this number being children under the age of 18 (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 2006). The cost of the health care in the United States is the most expensive in the world and it continues to grow at a rate that is also the highest (VisualEconomics, 2010). As indicated earlier, the United States does not fare well in the areas of life expectancy and infant mortality and persons with pre-existing conditions are left with nearly no options when it comes to procuring either coverage or care (Hilzenrath, 2009) and, although the United States has more physicians per capita than most industrialized nations they are distributed so poorly that there are large geographical areas in the country that lack any type of care at all (American Medical Association, 2010).

The Canadian health care system, meanwhile, is characterized by a single-payer method of payment where funding for all medically necessary care is provided by the individual provincial governments through the payment of taxes. All patients, regardless of wealth, are free to choose among providers, physicians work in private practices on a fee-for-fees services, and hospitals operate as independent, non-profit institutions (Health Canada, 2009).

The major advantages of the Canadian system is that it is simple and easy to use. Every Canadian citizen has access to care. There are no restrictions on such access based on income, age, or health status and there is no relationship between coverage and employment. Benefits for all citizens are the same. Private insurance for Canadian citizens is prohibited except for limited areas of need such as dentistry, pharmaceutical drugs, and specialized hospital services such as private room charges.

The Canadian system is not without problems and criticisms. As one might expect, financing such a comprehensive program has been a problem. In the early days of the system when the Canadian economy was flourishing there was little concern but as the economy has struggled and tax revenues have declined this has become more of a problem. In addition, shortage of services, equipment, and facilities, particularly in high-tech areas, has continued to be a problem. The all inclusive nature of the system requires additional personnel, facilities, and equipment and, too often, the demand is greater than the supply. Finally, the services that are provided under the system are basic. Specialized care is often not available and the seriously ill or those with unique medical needs must seek assistance outside the system (Martin, 1983)

Discusssion

There are obvious differences in the Canadian and America systems of health care. Determing what system is preferable is arguable and based upon a variety of factors. Statistics do not tell the entire story and can be misleading. What must be decided is a determination as to what society wants its health care system to accomplish. Is its purpose to provide the best care available regardless of cost and allow access to only those that can afford it, or is its purpose to provide care to as many as possible and spread the cost across the whole of… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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