Public Values

Privatizing health care is not the answer: lessons from the United States

Why the US spends more and gets less.

Dr Marcia Angellby Marcia Angell, MD, Canadian Medical Association Journal

October 6, 2008 — There are strong moves within Canada to make the Canadian health care system more like the US system by partially privatizing it. Those who favour this approach claim that the US system offers more choice and better quality of care and spares the public purse. Some proponents even go so far as to claim that it is more efficient. My purpose here is to disabuse Canadians of these myths by taking a close look at how the US system works and comparing it with the Canadian system.

In 1972 the Yukon Territory became the last jurisdiction in Canada to adopt the Medical Care Act, which set up a system to provide hospital and physician care to all Canadians. Before then, the Canadian and US health care systems were similar. Both were partly public, partly private, partly for profit and partly nonprofit. Both also left a great many citizens uninsured. The costs were also about the same — a little over $300 per person in 1970 — as were outcomes. At that time, life expectancy was about a year longer in the United States.

But with the implementation of Canadian medicare, the two systems rapidly began to diverge in all respects. The US system became more and more costly, leaving increasing numbers of Americans — now about 46 million people — uninsured. In 2005, expenditures were twice as high in the US as in Canada — US$6697 per person v. US$3326 in Canada. And although Canada insures all its population for necessary doctor and hospital care, the US leaves 15 percent without any insurance whatsoever. Those who are insured often need to pay a substantial fraction of the bill out-of-pocket, and some necessary services may not be covered. In a recent survey, 37 percent of Americans reported that they went without needed care because of cost, compared with 12 percent of Canadians.

Outcomes also now favour Canada. . .

To read further. . .

Marcia Angell is a senior lecturer in social medicine, Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA

Privatization vs. Public Values Frame
  Health care is a market commodity / Health care is a right

Links and sources
  Privatizing health care is not the answer: lessons from the United States, by Marcia Angell, MD, Canadian Medical Association Journal, October 6, 2008

Posted: October 22, 2008

Categories:
  Research
  Politics
  Health care
  Public services
  Voices of privatization
  Feedback and dialogue

Public Values (PublicValues.ca) is a project of the Golden Lake Institute and the online publication StraightGoods.ca


Public Values
 
HOME
CONTACT US
SEARCH
FREE BULLETIN
FRANÇAIS
Search PublicValues.ca
Donate to PublicValues.ca
News
Research
Politics
Campaigns
Health care
Public services
Natural resources
Energy
Education
Front lines
Voices of privatization
Feedback and dialogue
Visit StraightGoods.ca
About Us
Donations
Newswire/RSS
What is framing?
Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Updated frequently
To view photo captions, run your mouse over the photo
 
Bookmark and Share

© Golden Lake Institute/PublicValues.ca, 2007-11
PublicValues.ca owns copyright on all staff-written articles.
We encourage others to freely distribute material from this website but, without explicit permission,
Web publishers may only use short excerpts that also include credit to us and a reference to our site for the full article.
This site is managed by the Golden Lake InstituteVisit Golden Lake Institute Website and Straight Goods NewsVisit Straight Goods News Website
For comments or suggestions, please contact the PublicValues.ca Editor
For technical issues, please contact the PublicValues.ca Webmaster