Health Care Comparison
To fully understand the health care system in the United States, it is important to compare and contrast it with health care systems in other countries. One of the most common comparison made is between the health care system in the United States and that in Canada; while both have their strengths and weaknesses, a full comparison is necessary before making an evaluation of either.
In the United States, health care looks as follows:
- Is largely privatized
- Individuals can have vastly different coverage amounts
- Access to services are not automatic
- Opportunities to partake in health care benefits are based on where a person lives, how much money the person makes, or who they work for.
In Canada, healthcare is as follows:
- All Canadians are required to be covered by a provincial insurance plan with universal terms for all citizens.
- All patients can utilize the same services on an as-needed basis
- Individuals are not restricted to only certain physicians or facilities in certain areas, as they can be in the United States.
- Financial barriers do not exist in Canada as they do in the United States; Canadians will not face astronomical bills for necessary services as many Americans can, and do.
One of the greatest struggles that many identify with the existing health system in Canada is wait times for service. Depending on the study consulted, the percentage of Canadians that experienced a lengthy wait time for an emergency room visit can be anywhere from a few percentage points higher than Americans in the same position to almost double the number of Americans in the same position. Another point of concern is the financial responsibility of individuals that do not utilize the health care system; some might argue that if they do not need extensive medical care, they should not have to contribute as much to the tax funds that provide for the universal coverage for all Canadians. While the Affordable Care Act worked to take the health care system in the United States one step closer to the type of universal coverage found in Canada, there are still stark differences between the two systems.