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Why Healthcare Costs Trillions Less in Canada

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, November 15, 2012

As always before a major election, there's the chorus of threats. "If so and so wins, I'm moving to Canada." (Groan.) "This country is broke, and out of control, and we're all going to hell in a hand-basket."

And so it went this year, except that in 2012, many a Twitter tirade blamed the healthcare reform law—aka Obamacare, aka the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act—now on its way to full implementation, for the urge among the electorate to flee the country.

I paraphrase, but some of the unenlightened comments went like this: "I'm moving to Winnipeg. Don't want the government controlling my life or my healthcare."

Here's the irony: The Maple Leaf nation's government-paid healthcare system, which requires few if any co-payments or deductibles, may provide much higher quality of healthcare services at a fraction of the spending compared with the Medicare program in the United States.

In a research letter in the Archives of Internal Medicine Oct. 29, Harvard physicians and professors David Himmelstein, MD and Steffie Woolhandler, MD, put the comparison into perspective for people 65 and older.

They used U.S. Medicare actuarial data dating back 30 years. They excluded payments for the disabled and patients on dialysis under 65, but included Medicare Advantage, and compared it with comparable Canadian Medicare healthcare cost data from three sources.

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12 comments on "Why Healthcare Costs Trillions Less in Canada"


Dan Ross (11/26/2012 at 4:31 PM)
On a population basis this study appears right on. Notice the study makes no comparison of the survival time for Canadian citizens afflicted with serious disease? A better question may be, if one diagnosed with advanced ?? and covered by Medicare would he/she chose the medical expertise of Canada or the US? In Florida our hospitals enjoy a booming business of Canadians traveling for advanced medical treatments. How long does a patient in the Canadian national system have to wait for a MRI when their GP suspects possible brain cancer? In the UK it's 3 months. In the US 3-4 days? Other countries are cheaper for the reasons highlighted in the study but additionally due to the R word, rationing!

Sue (11/21/2012 at 10:47 AM)
this artical is false, misleading and a joke

emil cici (11/19/2012 at 7:40 PM)
When was the last time the Canadian System developed a major surgical or device break thru? Why do Canadians cross over the border into the US for surgical procedures.Including the Canadian Prime Minister? When was the last time a Canadian Company developed a major drug that significantly impacted a disease entity?