A recent study by the Fraser Institute compared the Canadian healthcare system to 27 other universal healthcare programs worldwide; its co-author, Bacchus Barua, stated that though Canadians spend a lot for the universal healthcare system, it compares poorly to that of other countries as it “generally has fewer resources, a mixed record on the quality of care patients receive, and remarkably long wait times.”
Ontario’s Health Minister, Dr. Eric Hoskins, considers their system among the best in the world, and a 2015 Conference Board of Canada report ranks it 7th best in the world – placing it ahead of Japan, Germany, the UK and the US. Canada’s system is the 3rd most expensive on the planet, and yet ranked only 24th for the availability of physicians and 15th for that of nurses. We had the least amount of acute care beds of all 28 countries examined, and our quantity of psychiatric care beds falls far below Japan (ranking 25th and 1st, respectively). Japan also had the most MRIs and CT units, while Canada ranked below the average in 18th place.
The Legatum Institute, based in London, prepares an annual global Prosperity Index every November; one of the nine sub-indices ranks the health of each country’s population. They use 3 key components: the country’s basic mental and physical health, the health infrastructure, and the availability of preventative care. From the 5th spot in 2016, Canada dropped to 24th in 2017 while Japan rose from 22nd in 2016 to 4th in 2017.
Nadeem Esmail, a Senior Fellow at the Fraser Institute wrote in 2013 that Japan outperformed Canada on five of eight measures of healthcare performance, while Canada led Japan on only one of the eight measures. He suggests that Canadians could learn much from the Japanese health care system – though emulating their approach would require substantial reform of our own, including a shift away from tax-funded government insurance.
The Japanese Health care model includes cost sharing for all forms of medical services as well as activity-based funding for hospital care and a system of statutory independent insurers that provide universal services to their clientele on a primarily premium-funded basis, which is commonly known as a social insurance system. Japan permits privately funded parallel health care and the provision of acute care hospital and surgical clinic services is largely private. As per Barua’s report, there may currently be an imbalance between the high cost of the Canadian healthcare system and the value received by its users and their access to resources. Clearly, it may be time to update the decades-old Canadian Universal Healthcare system.