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Healthcare in the US of America and Canada

As the United States debated the Health care reform bill suggested by President Obama’s administration, the Canadian healthcare system was often cited as a model that the US could ape. While Canada has for years now maintained a public-funded single-payer healthcare system, the United States opted for a private system that allowed as many players to participate in its system. As a result, the Canadian government can provide affordable healthcare to the majority of its citizenry and spends an approximate 10.4 percent GDP on the same, while 20 percent of non-elderly Americans remain uninsured and spend 16 percent of the country’s GDP on health-related costs (The National Bureau of Economic Research 2).

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With universal health coverage provided by the government in Canada, healthcare in the country is no doubt more accessible than the case in the US where 20 percent of the non-aged population lack any form of healthcare insurance hence making them likely to lack access to affordable healthcare.

Canada however faces a different challenge in access to healthcare as most people have to wait for long periods before they can be attended by healthcare professionals (Deming 4). Comparing people who go without healthcare services because of cost-related factors, an OECD report cited by Deming (4) observes that 25 percent of average income earners in the US and 7 percent of average-income earners in Canada have no access to healthcare. The inaccessibility statistics are much worse for 52 percent of low-income earners in the US compared to 18 percent of low-income earners in Canada.


The Bureau of Labour Education argues that the United States has “the most expensive healthcare system in the world” (2). In 1998 for example, the US spent 4,178 US dollars per capita compared to Canada’s 2,312 US dollars per capita in the same period. In 2007, the per capita spending on healthcare in both countries had increased to $7,290 and $3,895 for USA and Canada respectively (Deming 3). The high cost in the US is attributed to a combination of factors most notably the administrative costs incurred by private healthcare providers. Others include the rising costs of prescription drugs as well as medical technology. While Canada experienced a rise in the cost of medical


Though quality healthcare is difficult to define and quantify, this essay will define it as satisfactory and beneficial healthcare provision to patients. If what Americans say about healthcare in the country is anything to go by, then healthcare in the country does not meet their expectations on quality. Blendon and Taylor report that 89 percent of Americans are discontented about the “direction and structure” of the healthcare system (151). Fifty-six percent of Canadians on the other hand still hold the healthcare system in the country in high regard stating that it serves them well (Blendon &Taylor 151).


Continuity in healthcare is put in place through enhanced communication, tracking of patients, the transfer and retrieval of medical information, enhancing convenient service provision to patients, and availing comprehensive medical services to patients. Both countries compare equally in continuity and are ranked as average performers in continuity (UBC center for Health Services and Policy Research 2). Canada’s continuity is affected by the overwhelmed healthcare providers thus making it hard for patients and the care providers to sustain a continuous relationship. United States’ continuity in healthcare is hampered by the cost of care thus meaning that a significant percentage of patients seek medical care only when they cannot avoid it.

Works Cited

Blendon, Robert & Taylor, Humphrey. “Views on Health Care: Public Opinion in Three Nations.” DataWatch Spring (1989): 149-157.

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Bureau of Labour Education. The US Health Care System: Best in the World, or Just the Most Expensive? 2001. Web.

Deming, Brian. HealthCare in United States, Canada. 2009. Web.

The National Bureau of Economic Research. Comparing the US and Canadian Health Care Systems. 2009. Web.

UBC center for Health Services and Policy Research. Continuity of Care. N.d. Web.

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