Canadian and US healthcare comparisons

Apparently, putting everyone in Medicare (i.e., creating a universal system like Canada's) leads to worse results than having only some people in Medicare (i.e., having a mixed public/private system), says John C. Goodman, president of the National Center for Policy Analysis.

For example, in a National Bureau of Economic Research study, David and June O'Neill draw on a large U.S./Canadian patient survey to show that:

  • The per cent of middle-aged Canadian women who have never had a mammogram is double the U.S. rate.
  • The per cent of Canadian women who have never had a pap smear is triple the U.S. rate.
  • More than 8 in 10 Canadian men have never had a PSA test, compared with less than half of U.S. men.
  • More than 9 in 10 Canadians have never had a colonoscopy, compared with 7 in 10 in the United States.

    These differences in screening may explain why U.S. cancer patients do better than their Canadian counterparts, says Goodman. For example:
  • The mortality rate for breast cancer is 25 per cent higher in Canada.
  • The mortality rate for prostate cancer is 18 per cent higher in Canada.
  • The mortality rate for colorectal cancer among Canadian men and women is about 13 per cent higher than in the United States.

    Amazingly, says Goodman, there are quite a few Canadians who are not being treated for conditions that clearly require a doctor's attention:
  • Among senior citizens, the fraction of Canadians with asthma, hypertension, and diabetes who are not getting care is twice the United States rate.
  • The fraction of Canadian seniors with coronary heart disease who are not being treated is nearly three times the U.S. rate.

    Source: John Goodman, Health Care Consumers Know Something Government Planners Don't, The Insider, Winter 2008.

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    FMF Policy Bulletin/ 01 April 2008
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