They say the waiting is the hardest part. That's true, but a new report from public policy research firm the Fraser Institute found that it's not only hard, it's costly, too.
The Fraser Institute is renowned for its many reports detailing the state of the Canadian healthcare system and the efforts to reduce wait times. Its most recent analysis of the time spent waiting for specialist care, released last December, found Canadians could wait 9.5 weeks for treatment, though that number varies significantly province to province.
In a new report released June 20, researchers at the firm decided to figure out just how much that costs Canada each year in lost productivity. They used some of the following statistics to arrive at a total:
• The median wait time for treatment after making an appointment with a specialist is 9.5 weeks
• The nominal average hourly wage in Canada across all industries, is $22.99
• The average weekly wage is $840.06 Continue reading
When you get sick, you go to see the doctor. Everyone does. That's just kind of how it works, right? Well, there might be another way.
What if nurses ran the Canadian healthcare system? A new report from the National Expert Commission showed some improvements in certain areas resulting from higher nursing staff levels in healthcare facilities across the country:
• Hospital-related mortality
• Hospital-acquired pneumonia
• Unplanned extubation (removal of a breathing or feeding tube, for example)
• Failure to rescue
• Hospital-acquired bloodstream infections
• Length of stay Continue reading
Ah, a vacation to America. What could be more relaxing? Maybe it's Hawaii or California or Florida, so long as it's someplace with a beach. You can relax by the water and sip fruity cocktails with little umbrellas in them all day long, except… There's this nagging pain in your abdomen that has been bugging you all day. Could it be the bad Mexican food you ate last night? (Though, let's be honest, there's really no such thing as bad Mexican food.)
No, it's your appendix, and it's about to burst. Now, you're in trouble.
If you're like most Canadians – heck, most people anywhere – you probably don't think about the potential for a medical mishap while on vacation. Why would you? It's supposed to be a time of worry-free fun, and emergency surgery sounds like a pretty serious concern. But this lack of consideration could lead to some major costs.
Sometimes, Canadians forget that the U.S. healthcare system is so much more expensive than our own. (Sometimes, though, they remember and taunt the Americans about it, like those at a recent soccer match between the two countries who chanted "free healthcare" at the opposing fans.) But all fun aside, if you're south of the border and run into an emergency, you may go broke trying to foot the bill. Continue reading
Soccer fans shout some pretty interesting – and not always nice – things during games, but Canadian attendees at a recent friendly game against the U.S. national team chanted something a little more unusual toward their southerly neighbors, the Globe and Mail reported: "Free healthcare."
First of all, let's check out some of the basic differences between the Canadian and U.S. healthcare systems:
• The Canadian healthcare system is largely funded through tax dollars while the U.S. system is mostly privatized, with people paying insurance companies to cover the cost of care.
• Every Canadian citizen has access to basic medical services for little or no cost (beyond taxes), while tens of millions of U.S. citizens don't have access to health insurance or preventive care.
• Canada spends significantly less on healthcare per capita – $4,478 – than the United States – $7,960.
If you've been paying any attention at all to the goings on in American politics lately, you'll know that healthcare reforms have been a major topic of discussion – and contention – between the two main political parties. Our healthcare system gets brought up quite a lot as a simultaneous example of the benefits and the pitfalls of a nationalized system. On the whole, though, Canadians are proud of their healthcare, so it's somewhat understandable we would use it to taunt the Americans during a soccer match. Continue reading
It won't come as a surprise that a healthcare systems without good doctors isn't a very good healthcare system at all. That's why the Canadian Orthopaedic Association recently joined the chorus of physician groups calling for the country's ministers to continue negotiating ways to reform Canadian healthcare.
Dr. Emil Schemitsch, president of the COA, argued that Ottawa's current focus on fees has blinded regulators to the possibility of further improvements in healthcare delivery systems, and that such unilateral decision-making will inevitably lead to an unhealthy atmosphere of mistrust among the different segments of the healthcare community. While controling costs is important, he says, it's not the end-all-be-all of healthcare reform.
"While the government's goal to contain healthcare costs in keeping with inflation is understandable, it's approach is not," Schemitsch said. "Rhetoric does not lead to reform. Due diligence by all parties does." Continue reading
Despite strong feelings that the Canadian healthcare system is among the best in the world, one-third of the respondents to a recent Health Canada survey said the system is sick and in need of a cure.
The Ottawa Citizen reported on the survey, which found 34 percent of Canadians worry the healthcare system will deteriorate over the next five years. Among those who saw a negative prognosis for the country's health, most said the system is overburdened, unreliable and wasteful.
Almost paradoxically, the same survey found 43 percent of Canadians feel the current system is either good or excellent. Roughly three out of four people said they were confident they or their family members would receive quality care in the event of a medical condition. Continue reading
It may not be the strangest holiday in Canada (National Peanut Butter Lover's Day, anyone?), but healthcare professionals in Ottawa are getting ready to celebrate the first ever Medical Imaging Team Day on May 17.
The day is meant to celebrate the doctors, nurses, sonographers and other medical professionals who make up the medical imaging team. Imaging professionals who will be in Ottawa for the celebration also hope the event will educate the public on medical imaging.
"Many Canadians have, or know someone who has, undergone a medical imaging procedure," according to a Medical Imaging Team Day press release. "It is one of the fastest-growing medical specialties today and yet most people know very little about medical imaging, including its benefits and risks. Medical imaging examinations include X-ray, MRI, CT scan, ultrasound and nuclear medicine." Continue reading
As doctors and government officials spar over physician pay in Ontario, one newspaper has reviewed the correlation between professional compensation and wait times at medical clinics across Canada.
After recalculating physician wages in countries around the world to account for the relative buying power of different currencies, Mark Stabile, director of the School of Public Policy and Governance and professor of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, compared those wages to colleagues abroad, as well as average salaries at home. In his Toronto Star article, Stabile notes that, while Canadian doctors make less than their German or American counterparts, they make 3.2 times the average salary of most Canadians.
Stabile cites a study that compares the Canadian health system to another similar system, that of the United Kingdom. Though healthcare spending in Canada is much higher per capita than the U.K., the British are able to pay their doctors an average salary more than 20 percent higher than in Canada. Stabile also says that the average wait time to see a doctor is shorter in countries where compensation is higher, on a fee-for-service model. Continue reading
As Ottawa prepares to cut health benefits for certain protected persons and refugees, Canadians are reminded that their national healthcare system still doesn't provide everything they need.
Taxpayers currently spend more than $84 million per year funding the Interim Federal Health Program, which provides temporary health insurance to some groups of people who may not otherwise qualify for federal or provincial healthcare coverage. The IFHP also provides supplemental health coverage, including vision, dental and pharmacy care – coverage most Canadians do not have access to.
"Our government's objective is to bring about transformational changes to our immigration system so that it meets Canada's economic needs," said Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney. "Canadians are a very generous people and Canada has a generous immigration system. However, we do not want to ask Canadians to pay for benefits for protected persons and refugee claimants that are more generous than what they are entitled to themselves." Continue reading
Canadians who suffer from chronic or acute pain wait too long before receiving care, and the country is in need of a more unified pain-management strategy, according to representatives of various pain groups. The groups gathered in Ottawa recently for the first ever Canadian Pain Summit.
The Canadian Pain Society and the Canadian Pain Coalition, together with members of the pain community and other stakeholders, met April 24 to discuss the state of pain management in Canada. According to the groups, pain management is among the most common reasons for Canadians to visit a healthcare professional. Despite the prevalence of pain nationwide, management has been found lacking. A lack of pain-management clinics in large urban areas has led to long waits for care. It is not uncommon for rural Canadians to wait up to five years for treatment.
"Unfortunately, most healthcare professionals have not received adequate training on appropriate pain management and are therefore at a loss when trying to help their patients," said Dr. Mary Lynch, co-chair of the Canadian Pain Summit. "Veterinary students receive five times as much undergraduate teaching on pain than do medical students. The implementation of a National Pain Strategy would target this knowledge gap by insisting on minimum training requirements for all Canadian health professionals. This, along with better access to appropriate, coordinated pain management services, could reduce the costs in other parts of our healthcare system." Continue reading