Where Will the Canadians Go for Health Care Now?

While Canadians are defensive about their health care system, and often times hold it up as a superior model, tens of thousands nevertheless voted with their feet in 2013 for America’s quasi-market system.

Each year the Fraser Institute surveys physicians across 12 major medical specialties how many of their patients received non-emergency care abroad in the past year. The Institute then combines these numbers with data from the Canadian Institute for Health Information.

In 2013, 41,838 Canadians went outside the country to get medical treatment, down from 42,173 people leaving the country in 2012. This is interesting since wait times for patients who had consulted with a specialist till the time they got actual treatment increase from 9.3 weeks in 2012 to 9.6 weeks in 2013.

According to the report, there are many reasons why someone would leave Canada to seek treatment. Including “because of a lack of available resources or the fact that some procedures or equipment are not provided in their home jurisdiction” as well as “concerns about quality, seeking out more advanced healthcare facilities, higher tech medicine, or better outcomes.”

I’ve often wondered why those with socialized systems spend so much time and effort convincing America to join them. If they were a bit more self aware, they might realize that – for all its many faults – having a somewhat market based system as a safety valve mitigates, at least to some small degree, the many downsides of centralization. Put another way: if Obama gets his way, to where will these Canadians escape for their timely care?

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