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Canadian Medicare, our northern neighbor’s universal health care system, generally receives rave reviews from proponents of nationalized or socialized health care, but the Fraser Institute found that more than 63,000 Canadians left their country to have surgery in 2016.
As Americans contemplate overturning our health system in favor of one similar to Canada’s, we must ask why so many leave.
System - Metrics - Commonwealth - Fund - Survey
The Canadian system consistently ranks low or lowest across numerous metrics in the Commonwealth Fund’s extensive survey on health care. With regards to specialists and surgeries, the United States ranked best or nearly best.
The Fraser Institute study did not examine where Canadians traveled for surgery, but given proximity and our much better metrics, most probably came here.
Surgeries - Patients - Surgeon - People - Surgeons
Surgeries are scheduled after patients are seen by the surgeon, and most people see surgeons only after a referral by either their primary care physician in America, or their general practitioner in Canada. In the United States, 70% of patients are able to be seen by specialists less than four weeks after a referral. In Canada, less than 40% were seen inside of four weeks.
After being advised that they need a procedure done, only about 35% of Canadians had their surgery within a month, whereas in the United States, 61% did. After four months, about 97% of Americans were able to have their surgery, whereas Canada struggled to achieve 80%.
America - Canada - Surgery - Wait - Times
America is significantly outperforming Canada in surgery wait times even as it’s likely that tens of thousands of Canadians come here to use the American system.
General surgery, procedures such as appendectomies, cholecystectomies, and hernia repairs, make up the largest portion of those who leave Canada for care. Based on the latest available date from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the total Canadian case load for many of these procedures is about 10% of America’s.
America - Health
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