Don’t look to Canada for answers to health care

KEY TAKEAWAY:The results of a 2016 survey indicate that despite provincial strategies to reduce wait times and high levels of health expenditure, it is clear that patients in Canada continue to wait too long to receive medically necessary treatment.

Single payer health care is all over the news, but buyer beware.  In looking up North at Canada Wit is clear that waiting for treatment has become a defining characteristic of Canadian health care.

The Waiting Your Turn survey of 2016 indicates that, overall, waiting times for medically necessary treatment have increased since 2015. Specialist physicians surveyed report a median waiting time of 20.0 weeks between referral from a general practitioner and receipt of treatment—longer than the wait of 18.3 weeks reported in 2015. Is year’s wait time—the longest ever recorded in this survey’s history—is 115% longer than in 1993, when it was just 9.3 weeks.

From the consultation with a specialist to the point at which the patient receives treatment. The waiting time in this segment increased from 9.8 weeks in 2015 to 10.6 weeks this year. is wait time is 88% longer than in 1993 when it was 5.6 weeks, and more than three weeks longer than what physicians consider to be clinically “reasonable”.

Patients also experience significant waiting times for various diagnostic technologies. In 2016 Canadians could expect to wait 3.7 weeks for a computed tomography (CT) scan, 11.1 weeks for a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan, and 4.0 weeks for an ultrasound.

Research has repeatedly indicated that wait times for medically necessary treatment are not benign inconveniences . Wait times can, and do, have serious consequences such as increased pain, suffering, and mental anguish. In certain instances, they can also result in poorer medical outcomes—transforming potentially reversible illnesses or injuries into chronic, irreversible conditions, or even permanent disabilities. In many instances, patients may also have to forgo their wages while they wait for treatment, resulting in an economic cost to the individuals themselves and the economy in general.

Is there anyone who believes that that American’s would put up with this?  Of course not.  Yes, our health care system needs a total revamp, but we need to focus on what’s best for patients and outcomes not necessarily just costs.

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