September 27, 2020

Healthcare in Canada: What Exactly Is Universal Healthcare?

Healthcare in Canada

Healthcare in Canada

Healthcare is becoming a world-wide topic amidst the global COVID-19 pandemic. It’s not only important in the world of politics. It’s important for every individual that may get affected by this (or the next) health crisis.

You might have heard the term ‘Medicare for All’ during the current U.S 2020 presidential debates. There’s a lot of discussion about how to improve healthcare, using Canada as an example.

This article covers the healthcare in Canada and why it’s used as a positive example of healthcare systems.

We’re all going to be affected tomorrow by the decisions of today. So, the more informed we are, the better we can contribute. Let’s dive into it.

Healthcare in Canada

The healthcare system in Canada is quite different from the United States. Canada uses a single-payer system where the costs of essential healthcare are covered by the government. There are other costs (e.g., dentists, eye care, and prescription drugs) that are covered by private or employer-based insurance.

This means there are no ambulance rides that will cost thousands of dollars and no surprise billings that drain the blood from your face.

It’s not, however, a magical, utopian system. Firstly, there are other, more socialized healthcare systems around the world than Canada (e.g. Scandinavian countries).

Secondly, healthcare is not free since Canadians pay more taxes for their larger safety net. Citizens with higher incomes pay higher taxes to cover the costs of families who earn less. But since most costs are covered by the tax, Canadian citizens do not need to pay for surgery, maternity, or other kinds of hospital stays.

Thirdly, Canada has no equivalent drug plan, otherwise known as pharmacare. Instead, Canada has a patchwork approach with over 100,000 private drug plans and over 100 government-run plans. This means many Canadians pay out of pocket for prescription drugs or for a private drug insurance plan. Learn more about affordable prescription medications in Canada.

Universal Healthcare for the U.S.

Democrats in the U.S. have been calling for a similar, single-payer system in which all citizens would automatically be enrolled in a government healthcare plan. This would be a step towards adopting a universal health care approach.

American citizens spend twice as much on healthcare than other high-income countries (e.g., Germany, Italy, and Canada). In fact, Canada has a higher quality of life in almost all areas, including life expectancy and mortality rate.

Canada and other high-income countries (unlike the U.S.) have embraced the idea of universal healthcare; every citizen has the right to healthcare.

Canada’s Healthcare System Is Not Perfect

Although universal healthcare has many benefits, you should be aware that the rosy views of healthcare in Canada used in the U.S. presidential debates aren’t always accurate. Prescription drugs play a large role in healthcare, and Canada’s lack of pharmacare causes major financial burdens.

Healthcare comparison will remain a potent topic in the upcoming elections no matter how Canada moves forward.

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