The Wall St. Journal printed a series of letters debating the merits of an academic paper suggesting the Canadian health care system is cheaper and better. Defenders of the US system cite waiting lists, lack of equipment, and general difficulties of access to put down Canada. The paper’s authors cite health statistics showing Canadians are healthier despite spending half the US per capita figure on health care.
The truth is that both countries’ systems are lousy. Canadians are routinely denied care that would be considered appropriate and necessary in the US. The results can be fatal . And yes, rich Canadians do come to the US for care or bribe their surgeons to get to the head of the line. But Canada still seems to achieve equivalent or better results on average. We have plenty of access problems in the US, too. And it’s not just for people low on the socioeconomic ladder. Try getting a timely appointment with a specialist in Massachusetts, where spending is higher than anywhere in the world. And the rate of errors in the US –and Canada– borders on and in some case crosses over into the criminal category.June 23, 2006