Over the past four years, Canada has been feted as the country that does practically everything right. Its banks are beloved by everyone from economist Paul Krugman to Moody’s Investment Service (MCO), which rated them earlier this year as the safest in the world.
While U.S. politicians bickered for years over free-trade deals with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama, Canadians signed several pacts and launched free-trade talks with 50 other nations. Its economy has grown faster—and its debt has stayed smaller—than its Group of Seven peers.
Another success of Canada not mentioned in the quote above is that they have universal healthcare so thousands of citizens are not bankrupted each day due to overwhelming medical bills. When we were in Canada on vacation last year we mentioned that we spend about $1,000 per month on our health insurance and deductibles. My new Canadian friends were shocked to hear that. They generally spend less than $50/month.
I want to celebrate Canada’s universal healthcare in this post. Here are some things that Wikipedia says about it:
Health care in Canada is delivered through a publicly funded health care system, which is mostly free at the point of use and has most services provided by private entities. It is guided by the provisions of the Canada Health Act of 1984. The government assures the quality of care through federal standards. The government does not participate in day-to-day care or collect any information about an individual’s health, which remains confidential between a person and his or her physician. Canada’s provincially based Medicare systems are cost-effective partly because of their administrative simplicity. In each province each doctor handles the insurance claim against the provincial insurer. There is no need for the person who accesses health care to be involved in billing and reclaim. Private insurance is only a minimal part of the overall health care system. Competitive practices such as advertising are kept to a minimum, thus maximizing the percentage of revenues that go directly towards care.
The politicians who strongly oppose universal healthcare in the U.S. frequently state that those who have it are very unsatisfied with it. But if you actually ask them here is what Canadians say:
Canadians strongly support the health system’s public rather than for-profit private basis, and a 2009 poll by Nanos Research found 86.2% of Canadians surveyed supported or strongly supported “public solutions to make our public health care stronger.” A 2009 Harris/Decima poll found 82% of Canadians preferred their healthcare system to the one in the United States, more than ten times as many as the 8% stating a preference for a US-style health care system for Canada
I am a graph guy so I will close this post with a graph about the costs of our disjointed system compared to universal healthcare in most other countries:
Maybe now that we have the Supreme Court decision about our meager first step at universal healthcare we can start approaching what our Canadians neighbors are so proud of. I know in the title of this post I promised an ode, which is usually a song, but looking at the facts I do have music in my mind about future possibilities.