Health: Canada’s Health and Insurance Policy

The Story:

Imagine a scale of possible health care systems, with an entirely private, unsubsidized system at 0 and with a public sector, top-down planned system at 10. On such a scale the system in the United States, even after all the controversies about Obamacare in recent years, would still be in the very low digits. The National Health Service in Britain might be considered close to 10. On that scale, Canada ranks in the center, perhaps between 5 and 6.


Although both in Canada and in Britain, health care is considered a public responsibility, in Canada the front-line provision of care remains largely in private hands. Physicians are typically private sector entrepreneurs, hospitals are privately owned and sometimes run for profit, and so forth. Doctors and hospitals claim payment from the government under negotiated rates.

Roughly 75% of Canadians have supplementary private health insurance to assist with costs that their province’s Medicare system will not cover. As in the United States, health insurance is often provided through an employer as part of a compensation package.

In Pill Form:

Any province might in principle opt out of the single-payer system, but none has. Though much about the system (especially wait times) is politically controversial, the public subsidization of most routine health care is widely accepted and approved by the Canadian population.



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