Waiting Time/Lists in Canada’s Universal Publicly Funded Healthcare System

Waiting Time/Lists in Canada’s Universal Publicly Funded Healthcare System

A study on the “waiting time/lists” on the Canada’s universal publicly funded healthcare by Kao-Ping Chua of the AMSA in 2005-2006 revealed that Canadians wait for weeks to get treated or wait for weeks to get on a waiting list.

Huh? A wait on the WAITING LIST? Yup! No kidding.

Kao-Ping Chua concluded:

 – A small population of Canadians goes to the US for treatment. (probably the rich Canadians)

 – Canadians experience problems with waiting lists more than Americans.

 – Some Canadians experience more waiting periods than other Canadians, depending on the region.

The interesting parts of this study are the evidence that undeniably proved that waiting lists and longer waiting periods exists in the Canada’s universal publicly funded healthcare system. Many Single Payer/Universal Healthcare proponents, including those with phd, claims Canadians are happy with their healthcare system. That is true as long as the Canadians stay healthy and do not get sick. Once they get sick, they stay sick for a while or go to the USA for treatment.

Here are the averages waiting periods by medical conditions and by region, as Kao-Ping Chua reported:

In British Columbia Canadians wait:

– 9.3 weeks for orthopedic surgery

– 2.7 weeks for vascular surgery

– Endarterectomy (removal of arterial blockage) 3 weeks (hope no heart attack while waiting)

– 9.4 weeks for cataract removal surgery

 – 5.1 weeks for gall bladder surgery

 – 21.8 weeks for hip replacement

– 28.3 weeks for knee replacement

In Manitoba CT scan average wait is 10 weeks (lowest is 3 weeks and highest is 18 weeks) OMG! CT scans are used to diagnose a myriad of diseases mainly cancer. Holy cow! A Canadian has to wait 10 weeks for a CT scan needed to see if he has cancer or not. What if he was found to have cancer after 10 weeks of wait? Do you think the cancer has gotten worst during the waiting period? ALBSOLUTELY!!

Canadian government do not have a standardize system of collecting data on waiting time/lists. Why would they collect and keep data that would show the sorry system of universal publicly funded healthcare?

Because of that, patients self-report their experiences.

Statistics Canada, a non-partisan organization compiled these stats on how long Canadians wait based on Health Services Survey:

– 95% of Canadians wait an average of 4.3 weeks for non-emergency surgery

– 95% of Canadians wait an average of 4.0 weeks to see a specialist

– 95% of Canadians wait an average of 3.0 weeks for non-emergency CT, MRI or angiography

Waiting time for Canadians to see a doctor:

– Average wait between visiting a general practitioner and consultation with a specialist: 8.4 weeks

 – Average wait between visiting a specialist and receiving treatment: 9.5 weeks

– Average wait time for CT scans: 5.2 weeks; MRI: 12.6

 Holy cow!…again!!!! A maximum of 30.5 weeks just to find out a Canadian is dying of brain tumor!!!!!

Kao-Ping Chua also cited a cross-national survey comparing the difficulties faced by Americans vs. Canadians:

– 53% of Canadians said it was difficult to see a specialist. US is 40%

– 86% of Canadians said long wait period to see a specialist. US is 40%

– 24% of Canadians have difficulty seeing a regular doctor. US is 14%

Which health care system is better again?

 You can read the report here: http://www.amsa.org/studytours/WaitingTimes_primer.pdf

In 2008 the Canadian Breast Cancer Network published a report card on how long Canadian Women wait for breast cancer diagnosis and treatment and drugs. Here are the results:

 – Abnormal screen to diagnosis is 7 weeks

– Surgery up to 12 weeks

– Radiation is 4 weeks

 – Chemotherapy is 12 weeks

Is that acceptable, Miss American Woman?

The study also reported how long American women wait for breast cancer diagnosis to treatment. I am sad to disappoint the fans of Canada’s universal publicly funded healthcare system and the phds out there. The Canadian Breast Cancer Network found no evidence to substantiate if there is a waiting period for American women. Here is what the report said:

Unlike Canada, wait times do not appear to be a major preoccupation in the US. We found very little literature on this topic, even for recipients of Medicare or Medicaid. Because the US does not have a universal publicly funded health care system, access in terms of wait times may be not perceived as a problem by those who can afford to pay for health care, while those who cannot afford to pay simply do not use health care services.

Did the report imply Canadians wait longer because of a universal publicly funded health care system? (WOW! What a revelation?!!!)

How about the breast cancer drugs? How long a Canadian woman must wait before she can have access to the drugs that are already available in the US?

Here is what the Canadian Breast Cancer Network reported:

Total time elapsed between the manufacturer’s first application to Health Canada and final inclusion on a provincial or local formulary can be between 3–5 years or longer.

For those who can afford to pay for drugs out of their own pocket or who are covered by private insurance, wait times for access to drugs can be shorter. Those who do not want to wait for chemotherapy drugs to be included on the formulary in Ontario can also pay privately for some chemotherapy drugs that can be administered at a cancer treatment centre by a physician. In this case, the patient would pay for the drug, but not the use of treatment centre facilities or the doctor’s fee. This is controversial because it allows wealthier patients faster access to care.

Did the report imply universal publicly funded healthcare system does not solve the inequity in healthcare between the rich and the poor? (Hello! Mr. President!!!)

You can read the report here: http://www.cbcn.ca/documents/pdf/ENG_CBCN_fin_book.pdf


4 Responses to Waiting Time/Lists in Canada’s Universal Publicly Funded Healthcare System

  1. Angela White says:

    Although it seems that few people in Ontario are aware of the Trillium drug program for medication, there is a government program that helps to a very large extent with catastrophic drug costs related to serious illness. It is somewhat geared to income, insofar as the threshold for coverage rises with income level. Nonetheless, even people with incomes over $100,000 may find that they have coverage at some point if their drug costs are very high.

  2. Angela White says:

    As someone who is covered by universal health care in Canada, I can vouch that wait times are not too much of an issue here. If someone is rich, they can still go to the USA for comparable medical care. However, even the rich tend to “make do” with the universal system rather than pay thousands for what is virtually free here.

    • pjnoel says:

      It might not be an issue for you Canadians, but it is an issue for us Americans. Currently, we have very minimal wait time and we do not have to wait as long as you.

    • pjnoel says:

      As far as the rich going to USA for treatment, once our healthcare system becomes level to your healthcare systems lower quality and longer wait, where would these “rich” people go instead? Or where would “people” in general who are seeking better medical treatment go then? Rich and ordinary people with special medical needs go to the US because of the quality of the medical practice and facilities. That is the only reason why. Once that quality is lowered, where else would these special needs people go? China? Canada?

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