One of the main differences between the Canadian and U.S. healthcare systems is the amount of funding that goes toward the provision of health-related services. More funding is available in the U.S. At the same time, there is a general consensus that the Canadian system is more equitable in light of the fact that tired policies are offered in the U.S.
Canada spends a little over 10 percent of GDP on public healthcare while the U.S. spends over 17 percent. This means that each year about $4,570 is spent for every citizen in Canada compared to about $9,000 in the U.S. This is mainly due to the difference in the prices of medical services and medications in both countries. A report by the International Federation of Health Plans, for example, shows that Nasonex, a medication for nasal allergies, costs $115 in the U.S. and $29 in Canada. An abdominal CT scan costs $896 in the U.S. and just $97 in Canada. And while the U.S. spends significantly more on healthcare, data shows that Americans do not fare much better than Canadians when it comes to health status. Maternal mortality is 6.5 deaths per 1,000 in Canada and 12.7 in the U.S. Life expectancy is also shorter in the U.S. than in Canada, both for males and for females. The number of deaths due to injuries, heart diseases, and non-communicable diseases is also higher in the U.S. than north of the border.
In the U.S., close to 50 percent of people have Medicare, Medicaid, or Marketplace health insurance plans. Medicare is federally funded and available to seniors over the age of 65 while Medicaid is a program jointly administered by the state and federal governments to help cover health costs of people in the low-income bracket. Some 50 percent of people are covered by employer-based insurance plans. About 9 percent of people have no coverage, down from over 15 percent in 2007. At the same time, one study shows that medical bills are the main reason for some 50 percent of personal bankruptcies in the U.S. In Canada, all citizens are covered under Medicare, with the exception of dental care, long-term and home care, and prescription drugs. Some 75 percent of Canadians have additional private health insurance coverage.
Long wait times are a major problem in Canada when it comes to elective surgeries, specialist appointments, after-hours care, and next-day and same-day appointments. The average wait time for specialist appointments is 20 weeks. A report by the Commonwealth Fund reveals that 23 percent of Americans wait for a specialist appointment for four weeks or longer compared to 57 percent of Canadians. At the same time, fewer Canadians complain from healthcare services than Americans. The same is true for duplicate tests and medication, lab, and physician errors.
While wait lists are a serious problem for many people, access to physician and hospital medical services is guaranteed in Canada. Nursing homes and hospitals only charge for extended care. Canadians buy private health insurance to cover costs such as hospital amenities (e.g. private room), cosmetic surgeries, and dental services. At the same time, user charges are a serious burden in the U.S., private insurance is more expensive, and many Americans have no coverage at all.