Why Healthcare Costs Trillions Less in Canada

Cheryl Clark, November 15, 2012

As always before a major election, there's the chorus of threats. "If so and so wins, I'm moving to Canada." (Groan.) "This country is broke, and out of control, and we're all going to hell in a hand-basket."

And so it went this year, except that in 2012, many a Twitter tirade blamed the healthcare reform law—aka Obamacare, aka the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act—now on its way to full implementation, for the urge among the electorate to flee the country.

I paraphrase, but some of the unenlightened comments went like this: "I'm moving to Winnipeg. Don't want the government controlling my life or my healthcare."

Here's the irony: The Maple Leaf nation's government-paid healthcare system, which requires few if any co-payments or deductibles, may provide much higher quality of healthcare services at a fraction of the spending compared with the Medicare program in the United States.

In a research letter in the Archives of Internal Medicine Oct. 29, Harvard physicians and professors David Himmelstein, MD and Steffie Woolhandler, MD, put the comparison into perspective for people 65 and older.

They used U.S. Medicare actuarial data dating back 30 years. They excluded payments for the disabled and patients on dialysis under 65, but included Medicare Advantage, and compared it with comparable Canadian Medicare healthcare cost data from three sources.

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