Canada's healthcare system is losing ground on a number of key quality indicators despite an influx of nearly $100 billion over the last several years, according to a new report from the Fraser Group.
Since 1997, Ottawa has transferred an additional $97.6 billion to provinces to help pay for healthcare costs on top of the amount needed to maintain the system and adjust for population increases and inflation, according to the report. The federal government plans to continue making these cash transfers at a rate increase of 6 percent per year until 2017, at which point the transfers will be tied to economic growth.
For its report, the Fraser Group looked at 12 different metrics for healthcare quality and discovered that, even with large amounts of money coming from Ottawa, the system slipped in eight of the categories.
The average Canadian will now wait 19 weeks for treatment, the report shows. This is up from 11.9 weeks in 1997. Wait times to see a specialist after a referral from a general practitioner were also up over the last decade-and-a-half. The average waiting period increased from 5.1 weeks to 9.5 weeks. Access to nurses and ultrasounds also declined.
The only areas of the Canadian healthcare system to improve were availability of physicians, wait times for MRI scans, and availability of MRI units and CT scanners. The Fraser Group notes, however, that while the ratio of CT scanners to people in the country has improved by more than 75 percent, wait times for the machines have also increased.
“To improve Canada’s healthcare system, the federal government should modify the Canada Health Act to allow each province to experiment with different methods of delivering, regulating, and managing health care within a universal and portable framework,” said report co-author Nadeem Esmail.
Until that happens, Canadians worried about access to physicians and care can purchase supplemental health insurance policies. Medical Access Insurance can help guarantee timely access to specialists, as well as MRI and CT imaging.
Patients with supplemental health insurance can often secure an appointment with a specialist in 10 days, compared with the national average of 66.5 days. To guarantee timely appointments and care, MAI companies will help locate available specialists and treatments at nearly any facility in North America, as well as make travel arrangements.