Canadian health insurance pricey, inefficient: Report

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Canada has one of the most expensive health-insurance systems in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, but lags behind other countries when it comes to delivering services, according to a new report.

"Despite having one of the highest levels of health spending worldwide, Canada’s health insurance system is not providing Canadians with the same levels of access to medical resources and services as most other comparable countries," said Mark Rovere, co-author of the Fraser Institute study.

The think-tank’s report compares money spent against medical goods and services delivered in the 28 member countries of the OECD.

In 2009 — the most recent data available — Canada had the sixth highest rate of health insurance expenditures at 11.4% of GDP, following the U.S. at 17.4%, the Netherlands at 12%, France at 11.8%, Germany at 11.6% and Denmark at 11.5%.

But, Canada ranked below the majority of OECD countries on 15 out of 20 indicators the report used to measure available medical resources and services.

The country ranked 19th out of 28 for the number of practising physicians per 1,000 people, 12th for number of nurses per 1,000 people and tied for last for number of acute care beds per 1,000 people.

It ranked 16th for number of CT scanners per one million people, 14th for MRI units and 11th for PET scanners.

The institute, which favours privatization over public services, notes Canada is the only OECD country where private comprehensive medical insurance is prohibited, and one of only four that don’t require some form of patient cost-sharing for medically necessary care.

"Canada’s government-run health insurance system is defined by rationing of health services, unnecessary waits for treatment, and poor availability of new medical technologies. Canadian taxpayers are not getting good value for money from their health insurance," Rovere said.

"Governments should consider reforms such as patient cost-sharing, competition, and private insurance options. Other developed countries produce better value for money from these sensible policies and Canada should follow suit."