‘WE CAN DO BETTER’
While many Americans believe we are one of the top countries in quality of health care, the truth is we are not. We are the second most costly in the entire world and rank a distant 37th in quality. While it may not shock you to learn that America is not the top country where health care is concerned, the fact that we do not even rate in the top 10 should give every American reason to rethink the current system.
The United States is unquestionably a leader in technology. One would think that since we rank number two in the amount of money spent, and have all this wonderful technology available to us that our health care system would be second to none. So where are the discrepancies and why do these two figures, the amount spent (second highest) and the quality (37th) more closely match?
Improvements are needed and are achievable. Recent studies prove that since the US falls far short of universal health coverage the uninsured, now 47+ million and another 61 million underinsured will forego preventative and primary care, undermine health outcomes and raising the end cost of care. For example, if everyone with diabetes and high blood pressure had their conditions closely monitored and under control 1-2 billion health care dollars would be save and an estimated 20,000 to 40,000 lives could be saved each year.
Those that are not in favor of change or a single payer system point there finger at our neighbors to the north and claim the Canadian healthcare delivery system is more broken than our own. As America comes to grips with the reality that changes are desperately needed, it might prove useful to first debunk some myths about the Canadian system.
Myth: Taxes in Canada are extremely high, mostly because of national health care. Overall, Canada’s taxes are slightly higher than those in the U.S. However, Canadians are afforded many benefits for their tax dollars, beyond health care ( tax credits, family allowance, cheaper higher education), so the end result is a wash. The average after-tax income of Canadian workers is equal to about 82 percent of their gross pay. In the U.S., that average is 81.9 percent.
Myth: Canada’s health care system is a cumbersome bureaucracy. The U.S. spends more than 31 percent of it’s health care dollars on paperwork, overhead, CEO salaries and profits. The provincial single-payer system in Canada operates with just a 1 percent overhead.
Myth: The Canadian system is significantly more expensive than that of the U.S. Ten percent of Canada’s GDP is spent on health care for 100 percent of the population. The U.S. spends 17 percent of its GDP but 15 percent of its population. In essence, the U.S. system is considerably more expensive than Canada’s.
Myth: Canada’s government decides who gets health care and when. While HMOs and other private medical insurers in the U.S. do indeed make such decisions, the only people in Canada making those decisions are physicians. The government has absolutely no say in who gets care or how they get it, decisions are left entirely up to doctors, as they should be.
Speaking personally and as a health professional, I’m tired of the current system, the waste, the inequalities, and seeing Americans victimized by poor healthcare or no health care. It’s time for change, till next time, Rebecca