why is healthcare so expensive
Why is Healthcare So Expensive: Patience stay sick longer waiting for access to technology and Doctors. This investigation into health care spending policy compares International healthcare spending data to find the answers. 

According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), an international government policy and statistical information publisher; of the OECD developed countries, Canadians spend more per capita on health care of all developed nations with the exception of; Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, Luxembourg and the United States.

The numbers would appear to indicate that Canada suffers from a chronic shortage of doctors and access to technology, not nurses as popular opinion would indicate. The nursing shortage is caused because patients remain ill longer while waiting for care. Thereby creating an artificially high demand for more nurses.

The most startling comparison is with Germany; with 5% less in overall spending, German's health care policy allows for 62% more doctors35% more MRI and 24% more CT scanners per capita than the Canadian system. Canada would need a staggering 62%, or 45,500, additional Doctors in order to match Germany's level of 3.4 Doctors per 1,000 population.

Health Care Expense Facts: (all values are in USD and have been corrected for Purchasing Power Parity. Based on 2004 figures.)

Canadian Health Care Spending:

Canadians spend an average of $3,165 annually for every man woman and child and have a 79.9 year life expectancy. The health care system consists of; 2.1 Doctors, 9.9 Nurses, 4.9 MRI and 10.8 CT scanners for every 1,000 population. With 9.9% of Gross Domestic Product spent towards health care, an amount only slightly above the OECD average of 8.9% GDP. However, at $3,165, the Canadian health care systems costs more per capita then France, Germany, Spain or Portugal, each of which have 62% more physicians per capita than does Canada.

German Health Care Spending

Spending $3,005 per person and has a 78.6 year life expectancy. For 5% less in overall spending, the German health care system provides 62% more Doctors, 35% more MRI and 24% more CT scanners per capita than the Canadian system.

Swedish Health Care Spending:

Spending $2,825 per person and has a life expectancy of 80.6 years. For 11% less overall spending, the Swedish health care system provides 57% more Doctors, 61% more MRI and 31% more CT scanners per 1,000 population than the Canadian health care system.

You can add; Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Ireland, Italy, Spain, and the Netherlands, to the list of countries that get more for less per capita health care spending.

Only Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Luxembourg pay more with the United States topping the list with a budget of $6,102/year per capita.

British Health Care Spending:

With 2.3 Doctors and 9.2 Nurses, 5 MRI and 7 CT per 1,000 population. A real deal at $2,546 funding per capita. That's 10% more Doctors and nearly the same access to technologies with 20% less overall health care spending compared to Canada.

On Canada's $111 Billion dollar health care budget, Canadian taxpayers would save $22.2 Billion, that's $633 annually for every man woman and child using the UK framework. $22.2 Billion a year would go a long way in brining Canadians access to health care technology up to par and a long way towards eliminating wait-lists.

Australia Health Care Policy:

A similar example with $2,876 in spending, 2.6 Doctors, 10.4 Nurses and 3.7 MRI per 1,000 population. Canadians could enjoy 24% more Doctors, 5% more nurses and every man, woman and child would save $289 annually with the Australian system.

This begs the question, “Where does all the money go?.” It is not a question of how much, but of how well resources are allocated:

Health care spending in Canada is not out of line with other developed countries. Canadians would, however appear to be paying more for less.

Through examination of the examples set forth internationally, it would appear that Canada's health care problems are systemic; arising primarily from a shortage in Doctor's, a lack of investment in technology and general resource mismanagement.

Keep in mind that these figures represent all health care funding regardless of source -both state and private funding sources. The argument here is not public-verse-private. The argument is efficiency -how well does our money work for us? Canadians already fund approximately 30% directly through private funds.

The argument of a two-tier system is nearly a moot point as the working class avail of private 'extended' insurance policies to cover the continually growing list of items the government does not. Private insurance combined with out-of pocket expenses makes up the 30% or ~$1,000 per capita Canadians pay annually with private funds. Rather directly out of pocket, or indirectly through taxes and private insurance, ultimately we all pay.

One can only imagine what might happen if the Canada health care policy would allow for a match to Germany's commitment of 3.4 Doctors per 1,000 population: Increasing our number of doctors by 62%, totaling a whopping 45,500 additional doctors injected into Canada's health care system ought to have dramatic effects based on supply and demand. If each Doctor drew a $150,000 annual salary, the bill would be $6,825,000,000 or about $195 per capita -A mere 6% increase in overall health care spending from our current rate.

The issues are complex and there can be no simple solutions. However, it is a safe assumption that we could learn a great deal from the experience of other jurisdictions. Albeit no system is perfect nor ever will be. Yet surely there must be some room for improvement; some examples from which we could learn. Currently, the 4,113,487 (2006) residents of British .Colombia spend about $1,500,000 per hour for health care, that's $0.36 hour for every man, woman and child, 24 hours a day, 365 days per year totaling 8% of B.C.'s $39,490 per capita GDP.

In conclusion, health care costs are being driven higher by lack of access to both Doctors and technology. The US is a special case where high costs are antagonized by the American  litigious propensity. Many systems outside North America have similar or lower spending per capita while offering superior access to health care. Some jurisdictions claim a lack nurses and open hospital wards for explaining long wait lists, when in fact, available nurses and open beds are artificially in demand only because patients are being allowed to remain sick longer. A more efficient allocation of resources would see enhanced access to technology such as MRIs and to qualified Doctors. A more proactive approach is called for in both reforming encumbrances that restrict qualified Doctors from emigrating to practice in regions where their most needed, forward-looking investment in technologies, and in domestic training programs to improve the number of practicing Doctors. 

When it come to understanding why healthcare is so expensive, it's a simple matter of patients being allowed to remain sick longer. 


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