NW Week

Saturday, August 13, 2022

The pandemic exposed Canadian healthcare myths

Canadian healthcare myths

Key Takeaways:

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has again revealed that Canadians pay among the highest healthcare costs in the developed world for mediocre results measured by international standards.
  • We need meaningful and pragmatic reforms, not more political platitudes, about Canadian health care being “free” and “the best in the world.”

It isn’t free, and it hasn’t been the best in the world in a long time if it ever was.

According to the Fraser Institute, when adjusted for population age, we spent a higher proportion of our GDP on health care (11.3 percent) in 2019 than 27 other comparable countries members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation or Development.

Only Switzerland spent more, at 11.4%. The United States was left out because it lacks universal health care.

Canadians spent $174 billion on health care through taxes in 2019. This year it’s expected to be $191 billion, costing families anywhere from $726 to $41,916 per year in taxes, depending on their income, with a family earning $75,300 paying an estimated $6,521 per year.

Canadian healthcare myths; Image from Toronto Sun

Since 1997, the average Canadian family’s healthcare costs have increased by 177.6 percent, while average incomes have increased by 109.9 percent. Healthcare costs have risen 3.4 times faster than clothing, 2.2 times faster than food, 1.7 times faster than shelter, and 1.6 times faster than income growth in Canada.

This does not include the private medical insurance premiums Canadians pay to cover uninsured services, nor the billions of dollars Canadians lose in wages and productivity each year due to long medical wait times for medically necessary surgeries, treatments, and diagnostic procedures.

In the first year of the pandemic, the median wait time in Canada last year was 22.6 weeks. This year, it is expected to last 25.6 weeks, the longest ever.

Despite high healthcare expenditures, Canada ranks 25th out of 26 comparable OECD countries in acute care beds per 1,000 population (2.0); 26th out of 28 in doctors (2.8); 14th out of 28 in nurses (10.4); 24th out of 28 in psychiatric beds (0.37); 21st out of 24 in MRIs (10.5) and 22nd out of 26 in CT scanners (15.2).

Source: Toronto sun

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