Study finds Canadian health-care system expensive but inefficient

The Canadian public health-care system is among the most expensive among Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries as well as the least efficient, according to a new report by the Fraser Institute.

Looking at data from 2012 or later, the study determined Canada spends 10.6 per cent of its GDP on health care, which is only less than the Netherlands, which spends 11 per cent, and is tied with France. The OECD average is just 8.9 per cent. In terms of spending per capita, Canada ranks fifth at US$4,463.5, which is almost $1,000 more than the OECD average of $3,529.

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Yet Canada has just 2.6 physicians per 1,000 people, which is among the lowest across OECD countries. Canada ranks slightly better in terms of nurses (9.7 per 1,000 people), though it is still below the OECD average of 9.8. In terms of acute care beds, however, Canada ranks last, at 1.8 beds per 1,000, compared to an average of 3.3.

Canada ranks well in some metrics of clinical performance, such as survival rates of breast and colorectal cancer, around the OECD average for metrics related to mental health care, and poorly for obstetric trauma and amputations related to diabetes.

“To improve Canada’s health-care system, policymakers should learn from other successful universal health-care countries, for the benefit of Canadians and their families,” Bacchus Barua, senior economist for health-care studies at the Fraser Institute, said in a release.

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