Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Canadian Health Care System

Someone gave me a good-natured poke yesterday, when I observed that the Canadian prices of role-playing games, produced in the United States but marketed in Canada, are inexplicably high. In response, they made a humorous dig at Canada's Health System. Since I know they meant no offence, and were simply trying to inject a bit of humour into the topic (which I appreciated!), i'm not going to belabour this, but merely point out the following.

According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, as a percentage of GDP, the following (leading) industrialized nations spend the following amounts on health care.

United States 16.0%
France 11.2%
Germany 10.5%
Canada 10.4%
Sweden 9.4%
England 8.7%

Now compare the life expectancies for those countries.

Sweden 81.4 years
France 81.2 years
Canada 80.7 years
Germany 80.2 years
England 79.7 years
United States 77.9 years

How about infant mortality (number of infant deaths per 1000 live births) statistics?

Sweden 2.5
Germany 3.5
France 3.8
England 4.7
Canada 5.1
United States 6.7


Rognar said...

What's that buzzing sound I hear?

Ahh, HORNETS! :)

A Paladin In Citadel said...

Perhaps you heard the sound of gloves dropping?


Nah, not looking for a fight, just want to put things in their proper perspective!

FASERIP said...

Then again, Canada outsources patients to crapholes like Detroit, while people like Danny Williams choose to have procedures done in the USA.

Rognar said...

FASERIP, it happens, but honestly, I think it's pretty rare, at least around these parts. I don't know anyone who has ever gone to the US for medical treatment. I think the media makes it seem far more common than it is.

A Paladin In Citadel said...

Canada doesn't have a single system, so "Canada" isn't outsourcing. It's a particular Health Region in a particular province of Canada. I know it can be tempting to oversimplify, particularly for ideological reasons.

Interesting anecdotal information. But I think the OECD stats speak for themselves. On a global basis, nearly every industrialized country pays less for health care than the US, and has better health outcomes.

Odd that no-one asks why that is.

Rognar said...

The American problem is too much administration. You've got gov't programs like Medicare and the Veterans Health Administration as well as hundreds of private health insurers. Oversight of such a complex health care system is sure to skyrocket. Combine that with the higher cost of everything from drugs to malpractice insurance and it becomes easy to see why they aren't getting much bang for their buck.

FASERIP said...

"Canada doesn't have a single system..."

Interesting title to your post, then. ;-)

But, ce la vie. Even Canadians need to find something to take pride in (aside from, uhh, William Shatner and, umm, Martin Short*)--- even when it's partially outsourced to another country.

* Oh, and Ed Greenwood. You can definitely have him.

Badmike said...

France doesn't count infants that die within 24 hours of their birth as "alive", and thus this skews their infant mortality numbers. Many other nations do this also (sorry, don't have a list handy, but you can probably find it online). I took a statistics class in college and it's amazing how you can basically get numbers to say anything you want if you know just how to twist, cajole and prod them along....!

Anonymous said...

...Just for the record, the life expectancy in the United States is actually the #1 if you factor out auto-accidents and homicides, which is argueably, not any fault of our medical care system.

The_Myth said...

Seven shades of awesome.

Too many of my fellow Americans have been brainwashed by political lies and media ignorance.

I am sure Canada's system has problems, but it's not the wasteland of patients stuck in waiting rooms myth that is believed wholesale without investigation.

A Paladin In Citadel said...

Those are OECD statistics. Every G20 government, including the US, ascribes to the OECD. Not sure why you are questioning their credibility. Perhaps there is a better source of aggregate data?

FASERIP: My erstwhile commentor from yesterday referred to the 'Canadian' system. Next time I will try to be more precise.

I think you misunderstand, it's not about pride in the 'Canadian' Health Care system, but a commentary on the relative costs and health outcomes across a wide spectrum of developed countries. Thus my purpose in posting the above chart, and specific reference to several other countries, in addition to the US and Canada.

I gather you don't find the statistics perplexing.

A Paladin In Citadel said...

stonewerks said...
...Just for the record, the life expectancy in the United States is actually the #1 if you factor out auto-accidents and homicides, which is argueably, not any fault of our medical care system.

Stonewerks, love the dungeons of doom.

I'll stick with the OECD stats. 'Outside the Beltway' seems suspiciously like a Republican mouthpiece.

Anonymous said...

I totally believe that the OECD stats are accurate, but when you start taking into account homicide and auto-accidents, life expectancy in the US does go up. I was just making an alternate point of view on those stats, and why they don't really perplex me. OK...I'll stop now...:) I have enjoyed reading your blog for quite some time now now lets get back to games....:)

Anonymous said...

Thanks, for the compliments on my "Dungeon of Doom" :)

It could be a republican mouthpiece, (I'm a conservative which is not the same as a republican)

I haven't been posting much on my blog lately as I've been working on some cartography for another old-school blogger\'s pretty exciting!!!!

A Paladin In Citadel said...

Stop running each other over and shooting each other, for gawds sake!

And now back to our regularly scheduled broadcast...


Trey said...

Nice. It's funny, though, the folks I hear singing the praises of the American healthcare system, are mostly people who have relatively little contact with it.

Working in it everyday, I see its problems. Not that any system is perfect, and every one has its own bugaboos, but I'm absolutely convinced we haven't hit upon the best solution.

Akrasia said...

"But, ce la vie. Even Canadians need to find something to take pride in..."

Feeling a bit defensive, eh? :)

I divide my time between the U.S. and Canada, and the Canadian economic situation certainly seems a lot healthier these days (no government bailouts of the financial sector, etc.). I would say that's something to be 'proud' of.

Perhaps the 21st Century will be Canada's after all (Laurier may have been off by only a 100 years...)


A Paladin In Citadel said...

Like you, I also work in the health care industry. The private, for-profit part of health care in Canada. It pays for my holidays, mortgage and kids' orthodontic work.

Anonymous said...

stonewerks wrote: "Just for the record, the life expectancy in the United States is actually the #1 if you factor out auto-accidents and homicides, which is argueably, not any fault of our medical care system."

Even excusing the homicides, America is unlikely to be much less reliant on automobile transportation any time soon. So I'm not sure that should be excluded. You need to drive a lot in much of the US, so the auto fatalities are a risk of being American.

Ignoring American auto fatalities is a bit like giving China a boost in their life expectancy by ignoring the pollution, because pollution isn't part of their healthcare system.

Jim said...

The American (employer based) health care system is a fluke of the Great Depression. Employers couldn't give raises to employees by law; so they gave them health care instead. It was a system designed by businesses to lure the best employees in tough times. America got this one wrong. Time to fix it and get on with a better idea.

Trey said...

It pays for my holidays, mortgage and kids' orthodontic work.

Yeah, my job pays those things for me too. That would be the advantage of having a good job, whatever country one was in. :)

The problems I see in our system here in America, were not so much in what it does (or doesn't do) for me, but what it does for people with mental illness/addictive illnesses (no parity, yet), the hordes of the uninsured, and encouragement to physicans to overtest/prescribe. and the perverse incentives that keep people out of the workforce and on disability.

Mr. Gone said...

What I want to know is, what's the life expectancy of the Canadian Player-Character? Hah, I kid!

But seriously, Canada is looking pretty good right now. And I do have a thing for Moosehead...

Timrod said...

Worms, meet Can. If I shut my mouth, will you stay in there from now on?

A Paladin In Citadel said...


There was also something else about hornets and nests?

Zzarchov said...

My system is always "America can do whatever it does or doesn't like with its health care, and us Canucks can do our thing".

But our health care works, thats undisputable since it has happened and is happening right now, it would be like disputing that the sky is blue. Would it work for America? Not my concern.

A Paladin In Citadel said...

I'd be smarter to let sleeping dogs lie, but my concern is that certain distortions in the US health care system bleed over the border. You may remember all the "reports" in the 1980's of Canadian Doctors moving to the US since they could make more money there, thus reducing the number of doctors serving Canadians. I can give you examples of other distortions, but I think you get the picture.