Health · Money & Careers

A Look at Canada’s Single-Payer Health Care

My other brother, who also lives in Toronto, tells me he has never had a bad medical experience.  On a couple of occasions when he ended up in emergency, he’s had to wait for a time, but says the doctors are very good at a quick assessment then treat the most urgent. Obviously, heart attack care precedes a broken toe.

In the province of Ontario, one’s general practitioner decides whether one needs to see a specialist; he or she becomes a referee, if you will, examining and ensuring that no one goes to a specialist unless such a visit is warranted. The reason for this is simple: the government does not want to pay for needless operations.

Last summer my brother contracted a pneumonia that did not go away. He was given referrals, had a battery of tests, saw two specialists, both of whom reviewed the results of the MRI with him; ultimately he was given a clean bill of health. In a non-emergency situation he had sophisticated testing, meetings in between, all with nary a worry about what it would cost.

In the rural provinces however, things can be quite different, primarily because there are too few doctors who are willing to live where the temperatures can drop to 30 below zero, and where hospitals are few and far between. But this is true of rural areas worldwide; fortunately, in Canada, residents can be treated in any city regardless of their home province.

Canadian health care is appealing, something I forsake to live in the United States. But grandchildren have a way of rooting family to place. Unless I can round them all up for a trek north, we’ll stay put, knowing that other family members are safe and in good hands in the country of my birth.


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  • Patricia Yarberry Allen, M.D. January 31, 2017 at 1:30 pm

    Thanks for the comment/request. The author of the post wrote about her personal and family experience with the Canadian Health Care system. I suggest that you ask an actuary or someone in the US health insurance business for answers to your thoughtful question.
    Dr. Pat

    • Sean Siple March 26, 2017 at 12:33 pm

      This overview is concise and helpful. This is a foundational decision we could make that will reduce the cost and expand choice for all Americans.

  • Jean Hanna January 31, 2017 at 12:51 pm

    I would like to see a side by side chart comparing the costs for the canadians taxes for health care with the costs of premiums, deductibles and taxes for people in the US