About a year and a half ago, former Canadian Prime Minister Kim Campbell was on the Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC, the local public radio station here in New York. Among other things, the topic of health-care coverage came up (listen at 30:10 into the audio), and Ms Campbell said, as part of her answer, “It’s interesting, because there are all sorts of myths here about Canadian health care, and I can’t answer all of them now, but the point is that the system is rational and it is accountable to the public.”
At the time, I wished I could contact Ms Campbell and get her list of myths. But now another Canadian — this time, Rhonda Hackett, a clinical psychologist now living outside of Denver — has written an article about Canadian health-care myths, published a few weeks ago in the Denver Post.
Read the article; it makes a number of things very clear. Allow me to summarize some points that one gets from Ms Hackett’s list:
United States: 31% of health-care money goes to overhead (paperwork, company salaries & profits, and so on).
Canada: 1% of health-care money goes to overhead.
United States: 17% of the gross domestic product (GDP) is spent on health care.
Canada: 10% of the GDP is spent on health care.
United States: Less than 85% of the population is covered, and many of those have inadequate coverage. The U.S. has many “hidden” costs when uncovered people go to emergency facilities in order to get health care.
Canada: 100% of the population is covered through the normal system.
United States: Insurance companies often overrule doctors’ health-care decisions.
Canada: Your doctors are the only ones who make your health-care decisions.
United States: 14.4% say they have unmet health-care needs.
Canada: 11.3% say they have unmet health-care needs.
United States: You have to find a doctor who’s in your health insurance plan.
Canada: You go to any doctor.
United States: Doctors are private businesses; they do not work for the government. Their fees are reimbursed by the health insurers.
Canada: Doctors are private businesses; they do not work for the government. Their fees are reimbursed by the government, which acts as the health insurer.
Ms Hackett finishes with a story of her aunt, who’s waited 14 months in Canada for elective knee-replacement surgery. The wait may sound bad, until you realize that she will get her new knee next month. In the U.S., she could not have afforded it, ever.
Further, according to Ms Hackett, Canadians do not pay significantly higher taxes, overall.