Comparing US and Canadian Healthcare Systems

Comparing US and Canadian Healthcare Systems
The US and Canada had similar healthcare systems five decades ago. However, changes carried out more recently in the Canadian healthcare system have led to significant differences with the US healthcare system, although there are still some similarities. Despite the fact that there are still some weaknesses in the Canadian healthcare system, reports produced by public policy and public health analysis have shown that the Canadian healthcare system is better than the US healthcare system. The US can, thus, use the Canadian healthcare system as a model for improving its healthcare system. This paper offers an overview of the healthcare systems of the two countries. Also, it explores similarities and differences in the two systems and gives some recommendations on how the US can improve its healthcare system through learning from the nature of the Canadian healthcare system.
Overview of the US healthcare system
Healthcare in the US is offered by different, distinct institutions. Around 58 percent of the community health facilities in the US are owned and run by non-profit organizations. The government owns around 21 percent of the community healthcare facilities and 21 percent of these facilities are owned by private organizations that focus on making profit (Burnham, 2015). The US spends a lot of funds on healthcare. In 2011, the US spent $8,608 on healthcare per capita, which was higher than spending all other country across the world (Burnham, 2015).
Around 60 percent to 65 percent of the money allocated to healthcare services in the US is spent on programs such as the Veterans Health Administration, Medicaid, Medicare and Children’s Health Insurance Program. Workers employed in the public sector are provided with health insurance by the government. Around 67 percent of the US citizens are provided with health insurance cover by their employers or family members’ employers (Burnham, 2015). Some people purchase their own health insurance. Around 16 percent of the US citizens do not have health insurance.
Overview of the Canadian healthcare system
Although healthcare in Canada is mostly offered by private entities, it is mainly funded by the government. The private sector provides around 30 percent of the healthcare financing. The provision of healthcare in Canada is guided by the Canada Health Act that was enacted in 1984. Most of the healthcare services in Canada are free. However, the citizens usually pay out of their pocket for services such as prescription for dental care and glasses, long-term care or home care and prescription for drugs (Marchildon, 2013). However, provincial administrations sometimes offer partial coverage for such services. Canadian federal government has established standards that are meant to ensure that citizens are offered with quality healthcare services (Marchildon, 2013).
An individual’s health information is kept confidential between the patient and the healthcare provider. Even the government does not have access to healthcare information of individuals. The simplicity of administration in charge of providing healthcare services makes the process of offering healthcare services cost effective. Also, costs such as marketing are kept at minimum, leading to low costs of healthcare services provision (Marchildon, 2013).
There are several similarities between the healthcare systems of the US and Canada. Firstly, the government and private institutions work together to provide healthcare services in both countries. In both countries, emphasis is put on providing adequate training to healthcare professionals. Both countries have standards that are used to determine whether an individual is qualified to provide healthcare services or not.
Further, both countries have been investing heavily to improve the quality of healthcare services offered to citizens. However, there are some negative aspects of healthcare systems of the two countries. In both countries, issues have been raised regarding waiting times. Patients wait for long hours before they are offered with healthcare services. In both countries, there are limited programs to offer prescriptions for drugs.
There are also several key differences in the healthcare systems of the US and Canada. Firstly, every legal citizen of Canada is provided with health insurance, while not all US citizens have access to health care insurance. As mentioned earlier, around 16 percent of the US citizens do not have health insurance (Nadeau et al., 2014). Secondly, healthcare spending per capita in the US is much higher per capita than healthcare spending in Canada. Administration overheads are higher in healthcare institutions in the US than in Canada (Nadeau et al., 2014). Per capita spending in 2004 by the government was around $US1, 893. While the US government spending on healthcare is usually around 21 percent, per capita spending in 2004 was $2,728. Healthcare financing by private institutions is higher in the US than in Canada (Nadeau et al., 2014).
In Canada, the government has a single channel for funding healthcare services, through private institutions that are assigned the task. On the other hand, the US government has many channels, such Veterans Health Administration, Medicaid, Medicare and Children’s Health Insurance Program. The US spends more on technology for healthcare services than Canada. The proportion of lawsuits associated with healthcare malpractices is much higher in the US than in Canada (Nadeau et al., 2014).
Evaluation of the Current US System
There are some key issues on the US healthcare system that ought to be aIDressed. Firstly, the US system fails to offer universal health insurance to all citizens. There are people who are not provided with healthcare insurance may not have enough income to purchase quality healthcare services. Such individuals are likely to suffer when they face health problems. The US system fails to support them to access quality healthcare services, yet they pay taxes (Burnham, 2015).
Secondly, the US system incurs costs that are associated with high administration expenses, yet this does not guarantee an improvement in the quality of healthcare services offered to citizens. The long waiting time and lack of adequate programs to offer prescriptions for drugs affects the quality of healthcare services offered to US citizens. Higher level of malpractices by healthcare providers than in Canada leads to a reduction in quality of healthcare services.
Conclusion and Recommendations for Improving the US system
Overall, the US and Canadian healthcare systems have some similarities and differences and they have some strengths and weaknesses. However, the US system seems to have more weaknesses than the Canadian system. The US system should be improved in various ways. Firstly, the government should work with private institutions to ensure that all citizens have access to healthcare insurance. The government can set aside funds to support health insurance to individuals who do not have access to it (Burnham, 2015).
Secondly, the government should establish ways of reducing administration costs. This can be achieved through offering health insurance through one channel like in Canada, rather than using many channels. Also, there is a need to establish programs for drug prescription. The healthcare providers in the US should be taught how to respond quickly to patients in order to reduce waiting time. The issue of malpractice can be aIDressed through ensuring that all healthcare providers have adequate training and they follow established rules of conduct. Stern actions should be taken to healthcare providers who intentionally engage in malpractices
Burnham, J. C. (2015). Health Care in America: A History. Maryland: JHU Press
Marchildon, G. P. (2013). The Healthcare System In Transitions: Canada. Toronot: University
of Toronto Press
Nadeau, R., Bélanger, E., Pétry, F., Soroka, S. N. & Maioni, A. (2014). Health Care Policy and
Opinion in the United States and Canada. New York, NY: Routledge, 2014


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