I was reading Reader's Digest today at the gym and their latest issue has a couple of really good articles on the state of Canadian healthcare. My favourite was "Maybe Competition Is The Answer' where they compared the differences in a health care survey between Canadian and American hospital administrators. Unfortunately the article isn't available online so I'm going to have to provide the quotes. As a nod to Reader's Digest I suggest you go out and buy the April 2005 issue if you're interested.
Anyways onto the numbers.
To the question 'How often their patients had to wait six months or more for elective surgery?' the percentages that responded with 'often' or 'very often' were:
United Kingdom: 57%
New Zealand: 42%
United States: 1%
To the question 'What's the average waiting time for a 50-year-old woman with an 'ill-defined mass in her breast?' the percentages that responded with 'three weeks or more' were:
United States: 1%
To the question 'How long does it take for a 65-year-old man to get a routine hip replacement?' the responses for 3 weeks or less were:
United States: 86%
There were plenty of other survey question mentioned but I particularly loved this quote:
If U.S. hospital administrators don't have to worry about waiting lists, what does concern them? In a word: competition. Asked whether they feared losing patients to other hospitals, 88 percent of Canadian hospital administrators said 'not very' or 'not at all'. Only 36 percent of Americans were similarly blase.Indeed.
Concerned about losing patients to free-standing diagnostic or treatment centers? Seventy-seven percent of Canadian hospital administrators weren't versus only 18 percent of the U.S. counterparts.
Get the picture? in Canada, hospital administrators can't imagine losing patients. In the United States, hospitals fight to get them. If you were a patient, which system would you want?
The last question I'll provide the results to was 'What is your overall satisfaction level with the health-care system?' the responses for 'very satisfied' or 'somewhat satisfied' were:
United States: 51%
Those responding 'not satisfied at all' were:
United States: 6%
As the article concludes:
Isn't that just typical? Our system is underperforming badly, yet we're oversatisfied with it.It's certainly something for Canadians to think about the next time they debate health-care.
Granted, the American health-care system isn't universal. Though most people get very responsive care, millions of others are left out - to which the blindingly obvious solution is not to scrap a very responsive system but to find ways to make it responsive to the entire population. For all the U.S. - bashing talk about the evils of 'cheque-book health-care,' the United States is one country at least where waiting times are not a problem.