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US vs Canadian Healthcare: What Are the Differences?

US vs Canadian Healthcare

Here in the US, we often get a bit caught up in the healthcare debate. The media often suggests that our neighbors, the Canadians, have better healthcare than we do. However, a side-by-side comparison will show that each system has its pros and cons.

As soon-to-be or current allied health professionals, you’re probably very interested in this ongoing debate. Instead of jumping to conclusions about which system may be better, let’s uncover the real differences between US and Canadian healthcare.

Is Canadian Healthcare Free?

The real question is, what do you define as “free”? Canada’s healthcare is funded by a “single-payer” system, but it doesn’t function as one single, unified system. Coverage is publicly-funded, meaning that the funds come from federal and provincial taxes.

Some estimates, such as those of the Fraser Institute, put the average cost at about $5,789 a year per person. Meaning Canadian healthcare is far from free.

Additionally, care is provided by plans created in each province or territory, rather than a single, unified federal health plan. The Canadian government pays into these plans, but each territory and province is responsible for taking this money to create their own system under the guidelines set forth by Canadian Health Act (CHA).

For example, all “necessary” health services – like surgical dentistry, hospitals, and doctors – must be insured by the public plan.

How Does the Health Insurance System Work in the US?

In the US, healthcare plans are usually provided through private companies. There are some instances where the government steps in with some safety nets for those who have disabilities, are unemployed, or live at or close to poverty level. Otherwise, Americans take care of their own healthcare without assistance from the government.

Canadian Health Insurance Providers

Canadian Health Insurance Providers

In the US, we have a private healthcare system. This differs from the single-payer, government-funded system used in the UK, known as British National Health Service (NHS). NHS employees (including care providers) are all employees of the UK government. The UK’s system is just one of many examples of the different ways single-payer, government systems can work.

In Canada, however, physicians are private providers rather than government employees. These providers see patients and charge insurance plans, just as they do in the US. In this instance, “Obamacare” vs. Canada Health Act have more similarities than differences.

American Health Insurance Provider Options

USA Health Care Insurance

Private Medical Insurance

This system is separated into several parts. About 67.5% of Americans are covered by private health insurance, which is often funded (in part) by their employers. There are a number of private health insurance companies, but Health Care Service Corp., Anthem, and Humana are currently the three largest.

While they cover the largest portion of the US population, there are many other options for people who do not have insurance provided by their employer.


Medicaid is a publicly-funded health program supported by both federal and state funds, and administered at the state level. The program covers certain low-income pregnant women, children, people with disabilities, and the elderly. Eligibility is determined at the state level as well. In 2017, 68 million Americans were covered by Medicaid.


For people past retirement age (65 or older), patients with end-stage renal disease, or younger individuals with disabilities, Medicare can often be relied upon for coverage. It has four parts: Part A is hospital insurance, Part B is medical insurance, Part C incorporates health plans offered by private health plans (providing both Part A and B benefits). Part C also covers services that aren’t covered by original medicare plans.

The fourth section is Part D, a prescription drug plan offered by private health insurance through Medicare. It’s provided through private health insurance plans, which are approved by Medicare.

Obamacare Health Exchanges

Obamacare Health Exchanges

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as “Obamacare”, is part of a healthcare reform act passed in order to make health insurance accessible to more citizens. It does two things. Firstly, it allows states to expand the Medicaid program to cover any adult whose income is 138% below federal poverty level. Not all states have chosen to do this.

The ACA has also created tax subsidies, known as premium tax credits. These credits are for people who have household incomes between 100% and 400% above federal poverty level. This was done in an effort to make healthcare plans more affordable for Americans who couldn’t otherwise purchase them. The ACA also set up exchanges where people entitled to tax credits could purchase insurance plans on a yearly basis.

Lastly, the ACA affords citizens certain rights, such as access to free preventative healthcare, and requires insurance to cover people with preexisting conditions. Benefits under the ACA must be renewed yearly. The ACA also removes lifetime limits on insurance benefits for health care services that are considered ‘essential’. It also protects your right to choose your own doctor.

US vs CA: Healthcare Eligibility

In the US, we wrestle with the question of who should be covered by healthcare. Some citizens are concerned about paying for care for individuals who have overstayed their visa, entered the country illegally, or done something fraudulent to appear eligible for benefits. Canada is an example of a country that’s considered the issues at hand.

Residents of Canadian provinces and territories are covered by public insurance. Territories and provinces are allowed to make their own requirements for their insurance (and what it covers), so long as it’s in compliance with CHA.

Individuals who are not Canadian residents are not covered by the universal healthcare system, though they are eligible for limited benefits. People who fall under this umbrella are undocumented immigrants, temporary visitors, illegal immigrants, and individuals who stay past their permit dates.

Paying for Healthcare in Canada

Are All Services Covered?

If you’re looking for a comparison between the US and Canada, you can consider Canada’s system to be extremely similar to the US Medicare system. Canadian universal care doesn’t cover everything, however. Though the CHA dictates that medically-necessary services are covered at no cost, there is no distinct definition as to what “medically necessary” means specifically, leaving each province and territory to decide.

In Canada, regular visits to primary care doctors, hospitals, and diagnostic services are covered by Provincial Health Insurance. However, there is some cost sharing when it comes to other services, like ambulances, prescription/over-the-counter medications, dental care, vision care, and long-term care facilities. This does pose a bit of an issue for people who have large out-of-pocket expenses, but the government does provide a tax credit to ease this burden.

Private Health Insurance to Fill In the Gaps

Another somewhat contentious issue is private health insurance. Just like in the United States, private health insurance may be offered by employers. Canadians are also free to purchase private coverage to help defray from the cost of care which is not covered by the universal services (For instance, prescription drug plans help people pay for medications they need to take on a regular basis). Just like in the US, most of these private insurance companies are for-profit.

Paying for Healthcare in the US

Depending on the type of care you have, payment options can differ greatly. If you have private health insurance, you and your employer pay the premiums. If you’re self-employed, you may pay these premiums on your own. Under the ACA, you might receive tax credits to help pay for your private insurance plan, but some expenses may be out-of-pocket.

Medicare and Medicaid are both publicly-funded through tax dollars; however, there are Medicare plans that can be purchased and give additional health coverage.

Issues with Canadian Healthcare

Issues with Canadian Healthcare - Waiting Time

There are pros and cons for single payer health care. The Canadian system doesn’t cover everything, and private insurance is often used to supplement coverage. There can also be copays for medical necessities like prescriptions. Then, of course, there are Canadian healthcare wait times, which many Americans would consider unreasonable.

These wait times stem from many things, but currently, there’s about one primary care physician per 1000 people, and the rate of available specialists is similar. Patients are guaranteed reasonable wait times for urgent needs, but can expect to wait longer to see a specialist or have an elective procedure done. Generally, all efforts are made to streamline appointments for life-threatening issues but there can still be some wait time involved.

From the time it takes to receive a referral by a GP – to receiving treatment – Canadians wait an average of 21.2 weeks to receive treatment from a specialist. MRI procedures could take up to 10.8 weeks. Some argue that the wait times are far too long.

Issues with American Healthcare

Issues with American Healthcare

One major problem continues to be access to care. Roughly 26 million Americans have no health insurance, meaning their access to healthcare is limited. These people, in turn, don’t receive the same level of care as those who are insured, and it creates enormous disparity within the country.

America has a shortage of healthcare providers, especially in primary care. This leads to longer wait times. In some 15 metropolitan cities, patients waited up to 24 days for an appointment.

Healthcare affordability is a major issue in the US. In fact, the ACA was designed to help tackle this problem. The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation reported that – as of 2017 –  four out of ten adults with health insurance had issues paying their deductibles.. The same report suggests that about three in 10 people had problems paying their medical bills, and were delayed getting the care they were in need of due to expenses.

The last problem is the price of care. According to CNBC, the average family spent about $9,996 for their health insurance premium in 2016 and the average individual paid around $3,852. This doesn’t include the deductible or copays. When the deductible is added to these figures, a family spent a total of about $18,000 in 2016 and an individual spent somewhere around $8,210.

How Insurance Affects Allied Healthcare Jobs

How Insurance Affects Allied Healthcare Jobs

The world of healthcare may seem complex and confusing but once you boil it all down, it’s easy to see how different systems around the world work. No one system can claim to be the best, and there are pros and cons to any method of delivering healthcare. No matter where you are in the world though. Healthcare providers will tell you that it’s a satisfying and important job.

Whether you’re looking for a job at home or abroad, the allied healthcare field is booming. No matter which country, aging populations will require more care in the coming decades. Whether you’re just starting out or looking to switch careers, check out some of the amazing and fulfilling careers that allied healthcare offers.

Join the Allied Healthcare Industry Today

With something for everyone, allied healthcare is flexible and offers room for growth. Careers like pharmacy technician and dental hygienist are high-paying and allow you to start working in two years or less.

If you’re looking to lower your stress levels, many careers in this field are on top of many career satisfaction lists. Make a difference in your patients’ lives while enjoying what you do.

If you live in the NJ area we can help you choose a program you like and get into the allied healthcare field today!

90 thoughts on “US vs Canadian Healthcare: What Are the Differences?

  • Serge Golane says:

    I am sorry but I think that American’s health care system is a way to rob their own citizens. Why? Because in other countries as Canada and Europeen countries your health insurance is free and coming from your taxes collected from your pay check. In contrary in the US the governement and the States are collecting a lot of taxes and it is impossible to get a
    Free insurance. You have to pay for it. Almost 2/5 of my income is going to taxes and I have to pay for my own insurance.

    • Stephen James says:


      First off, the Canadian and European countries healthcare is NOT FREE!

      Do you think the US Government will merge Gov’t healthcare costs into your existing tax rate? Of course not! It will be in addition to the 2/5 tax rate that you pay now. You, yourself said that the US government is collecting taxes and its impossible to get insurance. Not the case. There are assistance programs and hospitals are required to budget for persons that cannot afford. The Government is rarely efficient and caring when it comes to patients needs.

      It pains me to see ignorant comments such as yours on this subject.

      • StephenJames says:

        Canadian and Europe’s healthcare is free, if you pay nothing then its free (basic common sense). Your redundant last comment is also unnecessary, it pains me to see someone say sophomoric things directed at someone simply stating an opinion. The U.S. CAN afford free healthcare but it needs to decrease spending on things like the defense department which includes the military and war expenditures. They can make the room for it, but it makes top officials less money.

        • Timothy Stuber says:

          If you would read the article above it states that it is not free.

          • sam says:

            It is free in the sense of we do not pay out of our pockets for it …we pay for it through the taxes we pay to our provinces and each provinces regulates the rules and how they fun their citizens.

          • John says:

            Whether paying for it out of pocket or paying for thru taxes deducted from your paycheck you are still paying for it. There is nothing “free” about it.

        • JAMES A HARRIS says:

          Free? Have you looked at their tax rates? Nothing is FREE.

          • Sam says:

            Their tax rates are not much higher than the amount of taxes we pay plus we have to pay for healthcare, it pains me to see how ignorant your comments are.

          • Jordan Ketterer says:

            So if you never need healthcare you will indeed pay taxes for public healthcare. You could say to your self that you are being a part of a community or maybe a united group of people working together to help yourself and others. IF i never end up needing ANY health care in my life that is enough for me.
            Now on the other hand in the states you can either pay outright and NEVER worry about healthcare if you dont need it, or you pay for private health insureance, which is remarkably similar to a social system as in you are a group of people paying into a fund and are insured you get healthcare.
            the difference is that everyone is equal in canada, where as in the states you “get what you payed for” as in you may be limited in what your insurance covers in the end or the approved instatutions may not be the best depending on what you are paying.

            BUT then lets say you and I each contract some disease, through no fault of ours or anyone elses. I walk into a hospital and I get treatment, you walk in, and most lickly need to figure out if treatment if covered, then in many cases pay for it and send it to insurance to reimburse you.

            Now lets talk actual money, by what the article says lets say I am paying 5000$ a year in taxes for healthcare if I pay this for 75 years I would pay roughly 375000 dollars weather I use it or not, but just remember that someone will and the world doesnt revolve around you or I. that may sound like a lot right, i mean its more then the house I own, BUT then ask your self what do you pay per year for insurance, or what would you pay for a single injury, disese or anything?
            In the end im Happy, I know I will have treatment when I need it, Can you say the same, and if I dont need it I can be pretty happy that a fellow Canadian will be better off because of it

          • Sayeh says:

            Jordan, that’s such a crystal clear fallacy. Look at anybody’s medical records past the age of 40 and you’ll find out that nobody exists that is so healthy and impervious to disease that they’ve never had to access medical care. Cancer is a perfect example of an expensive-to-treat disease that can strike no matter how healthy you are.

            People pay medical insurance if they can afford it because they know full and well that their health tomorrow is never a given. Some might use an HSA to save on their premiums but their main policy exists to pay for things that the HSA can’t cover.

            Anybody who can afford insurance but forgoes it altogether based on their bull*** assessment of their own health is being financially irresponsible. Insurance “ensures” that you won’t have the misfortune of being made poor because of receiving medical care.

            At the end of the day, you just sound heartless and blindly avaricious with zero self-awareness of your own mortal fragility.

          • Sayeh says:

            Sorry, I meant James, not Jordan.

          • Joyce King says:

            People also seem to have skimmed over the part of the article that states that everything is not covered under Canadian Healthcare, and prescription help is sometimes necessary, and also some choose to buy supplemental insurance to offset the costs of what the universal care doesn’t cover. Also, the wait times are extremely long.

          • Paul Backs says:

            Sam, you obviously haven’t looked at the Canadian income tax rates. Their median rate is 33% for income taxes. That is significantly higher than my 20% for $200K of income.

        • Stephanie says:

          Right…instead of calling someone’s comments ignorant,maybe just explain where you think they are wrong! U sound less like a douche bag that way! He’s right on one thing,it isn’t free! You said it yourself “Because in other countries as Canada and European countries,your health insurance is free,coming from your taxes collected from your paycheck!” IT isn’t free, if they are paying taxes,and their taxes fund their healthcare!
          Second,to both of you! Canada is Monetarily sovereign. Which means it’s the currency issuer,it decides how much the currency you use is worth! The government decides where, and on what to spend that currency on! Fun fact,your taxes don’t fund federal spending,taxes are only created to drive currency! So, both our governments could do a lot better,but American healthcare is strictly for profit now! Where as Canada seems to be trying! Kudos Seriously,tho,in either country your taxes don’t fund federal spending! Think about that really hard! Then go check out modern Monetary Theory! Or We have many resources on it! Look up stephanie Kelton! Warren Mosler! Randal Wray! It helps to understand how our monetary system works!

        • Nicole Egerton says:

          It’s not free because it is being paid for by raised taxes that each Canadien pays. I think it is ignorant for anyone in the U.S. to defend our healthcare system. Americans defend it even though insurance companies pay less for the same procedure than an uninsured American. In fact, the uninsured American pays higher rates than insurance companies! Hospitals and doctors overcharge because insurance only pay what they want. I read reports of hospitals charging $25000 for a procedure, but only getting $10000 from the insurance company; any uninsured American pays the $25000. How does our healthcare system involve no set pricing? I mean, you don’t know what you will be charged for a hospital visit until you get the bill? At this point just allow the insurance companies to set the prices so uninsured Americans can reap the benefit that insurance companies do!

          Stephen, we will never give less money to our military budget. We are always at war.

        • randy combs says:

          How about cutting EBT cards, government housing, govrrnment childcare, etc… Why is the military that you guys always want to cut? There is so much government waste its pathetic! I dont live and work so everyone else can have healthcare. You are obese, therefore i have to pay for that! You smoke, I have to pay for that. A person is negligent in their life, I have to pay for that? How many Americans have and are getting diabetes every day because of their lifestyle, and you want everybody to pay for that? Its not gonna work. We are a nation of 360 million. Canada for example is 37 million. Not gonna work. Bernie is not telling you the whole story. They lie to you.

          • Donna says:

            Heartless. My kid has cancer. Shouldn’t have to pay for that either. Typical Self centered American. You make me

          • Perstephanie says:

            We have firefighters, you have to pay for that, we have schools, you have to pay for that, we have Bridges and highways, you have to pay for that, we have lazy worthless politicians, you pay for them too. Why is your beef with Medicare, which you’ll be entitled to once you’re old enough, and Medicaid, which helps the truly at need: mostly children? 45 million children get insured through Medicaid, far more than adults. In fact, pretty much only the disabled can get Medicaid. So… You want to take healthcare away from children and the disabled? Gotcha

        • Cail says:

          How about instead of suggesting the money comes from reducing our military and defense spending we completely stop funding other countries’ militaries and use that money. We are always quick to take money from our own country when we pay for things in so many others.

          • Danoh says:

            Defense spending in the US is about 12-16% of our Budget. The Majority of the Federal Budget is in Social Programs as Government assistance. 48% of Americans pay no Federal Income taxes at all. If we did not spend on our Military of course we would have more money, but then again Frenchmen would be speaking German and Eastern Europe would be speaking Russian………..go figure!

        • Jeffery says:

          If defense spending was zero that still leave 500 billion a year in difference. The biggest cost is already Medicaid and Medicare. The VA is completely government run and it’s shit.

        • Darryl says:

          If the fact that healthcare in Canada is paid for out of taxes means it is free, then defense spending in the US is free also, and you have argued against yourself.

        • Roger says:

          @ StephenJames – Are you serious or just ignorant? First and foremost NOTHING is “free” and in the case of healthcare, this is especially true. You (meaning most all of us) are paying for health “insurance” Yes, health “insurance”, meaning whether (we) use it or not. are paying either up front or on the back end. Taxes…….your paying very high taxes and a portion of those taxes is allocated toward health care “insurance”. We, in the U.S. are now (thanks to Obama’s UN-afforadable Health Care Act) are getting slammed at BOTH ends. Higher taxes, plus co-pays and deductibles and if chosen, Insurance premiums for a Supplemental Insurance coverage. Bottom line: NOTHING is free……’re paying up front for something you “may not have to use” – we pay at both ends.

        • Roberta Atkinson says:

          It costs each Canadian approx. 7,500.00 in extra taxes nothing is free, wait times are longer much longer, all procedures are not covered, a private policy is needed to cover these procedures—–everything comes at a cost. Here in Wisconsin for those who do not have insurance nor the income Badger Care is provided with no cost to the patient. The cost is picked up by the tax payer.

        • Stuart Rosenbaum says:

          I’m not sure who wrote this but I agree on this key point- US government could potentially provide “free” care at current tax rates by reducing the waste in many other areas- including defense spending. However done, there’s a cost or transference of cost and in the end the citizens are really paying either through higher taxes or a reduction in other government services (which may not be needed at the extreme levels we are spending for them). Perhaps transferring some of those dollars to healthcare might be a more beneficial use of our $32 Trillion + in debt

        • Randy Stefura says:

          These comparisons cannot be made the way you present them.
          Canada has the population of California in a bigger country than America.
          The small tax base and the scattered population strains the CDN system.
          This needs to be stated in every comparison.

        • Leeann Springer says:

          There’s nothing free in life. Someone will eventually have to pay for what others can’t or won’t pay. There’s no free lunches or healthcare, in the USA or in Canada. Canada has a one payer system, but they still rely on Federal or provential taxes. In America, those who receive free healthcare, food cards, housing is a cost to the tax payers or through inflated prices. For instance, I had to pay $2.95 for my grandson’s school lunches every day, because part of the cost was due to some other child eating for free (indigent parents). No, we should never decrease military spending, as our national defense should never be short-changed.

      • Ruth Cortez says:

        I agreed, we cannot compare apples and bananas, every citizen needs to take a share cost of the health program. It seems as the lower and medium class are paying more at front, but the regular workers paying taxes have a higher deduction of the share cost. I truly believe that the system can be modify. In other words have a hybrid system based on the factors.

        • randy combs says:

          I like how you guys come up with ” I truly believe” ideas, but never offer solutions on how to achieve them. Give us plans! You sound like Bernie. We can afford Medicare for all! How Bernie? By taxing the rich! but you can take every dime they have and it wouldnt fund your plan? Thats a lie, he said. Dont listen to this clown.

      • Ted C. says:

        healthcare in hospitals for indigent patients is so far from reasonable that this comment is essentially inane. First it is governed by the 50 states followed by every county in the country, many of which are rural and poor, From personal observation I can state that, although the county where I live does have a fairly good Indigent Medical Care program” I have also seen physicians and nurses fail-totally fail-to actually care for poor patients. If a person is taken to an emergency room with serious injuries sustained in a car accident, initial treatment may be fine. Then the insurance question kicks in and , depending on the state, the county and the institution may decide the quality if care the patient gets if there is no insurance or only basic. I have seen patients ignored and eventually turned away (discharged) despite continuing pain, then have to go in for surgery within a week for emergency surgery for conditions that could very well have killed them left untreated (ectopic pregnancy in one case) so this line of just go to the hospital is stupid and wrong.

      • Hilario Garcia says:

        How would you explain,since you’re not ignorant, that Healthcare cost per person is a lot higher in the U S than in Canada and results a lot worse?
        I have worked in both countries, and I invite you to check statistics before insulting someone.

        • Bob Donaldson says:

          The most important fact of all. It really does boil down to Dollars and cents. What many Americans don’t realize is that they already subsidize people who don’t have insurance because when they go to the emergency room for routine treatment which is the most expensive form of healthcare those costs are passed on to people who do have insurance. It’s not like hospitals which are for-profit are going to take a loss on those who cannot pay. Also before Obamacare and the mandate many young healthy people opted out of your company provided health insurance to gain a larger paycheck. For any system to be effective and to cover pre-existing conditions there has to be a mandate that all people have health insurance. Otherwise people would opt out of insurance until they got sick and then try to buy into a plan to cover the costs. Anybody who thinks that would work is insane. That would be like driving without car insurance and then buying the insurance after you wrecked the car to get it fixed.

      • James Hilliard says:

        Ignorant comment? I am a patient of the Veterans Administration and a retired RN working on my MSN. Rarely efficient? The VA healthcare system is the best in the world! And it is a gov’t agency. When I was working f/t as an RN I paid close to $5500/yr for 80/20 employer-provided health coverage. Though it was for family coverage it did not cover my wife’s pre-existing condition. Then when I became disabled I was terminated and lost my coverage immediately. That was when I went to the VA. I’ve had some expensive surgeries and therapy trying to get back to work. It has cost me not one single penny including ER, ambulance and prescriptions. They even reimburse me for meals and mileage. Problem? My family cannot use the VA; it’s only for Vets. I’d rather have given my $5500+ per year to taxes for the VA if my family could also use it.

      • Dave says:

        If you read the post again you will see that Serge states that the system is funded through taxes.
        It pains me to see your ignorance on this subject.

    • Mike says:

      Not free if you have an emergency… I had to go to a private clinic to be treated for stepping on a rusty nail… bc the “free” system told me to wait for a 1-3 weeks to see a specialized doctor.

      • Lou STOJANOV says:

        Not sure where you live but in Ontario Canada same visit….. This happened to me.

        • Freddie says:

          Really? I am from ontario and my family doctor at the clinic just gave me a tetanus shot when i step on a rusty nail. Mind you the nail didn’t go through my foot but it went about a centimetre in my toe.

    • carl says:

      The Move to Canada

    • Ava Alma says:

      It is not free in Canada. Read the article.

    • K Stai says:

      “”Your health insurance is free and coming from your taxes collected from your pay check.”” So this is Free? How exactly is it any different from me paying a Monthly Premium to an Insurance Company vs. Having my money TAKEN by the Government in the for of Taxes – We have choices in choosing Private Insurance. What choices do we have if the Gov takes our money to provide this FREE Healthcare – So Please, tell me, how is that Free???

      • Sharon says:

        Because we are paying our premiums and we have choices but we cannot afford the deductibles so we refuse to see a dr. And you say the USA has better healthcare? Lol

        • Sam says:

          Then why do people come from all over the world to the US for treatment. Even your own citizens (i.e. Michael Buble) brought his son to the US for his cancer treatment. Why didn’t he stay there if its so great????

          • Ian says:

            Why do people leave the US and go all over the world for treatment – Mexico, India, Europe? Because they can’t afford the treatment they need at home that’s why.
            Nobody is disputing that the US offers top quality treatment for some procedures (but it’s only the super wealthy that can afford it). Why did Rand Paul go to Canada to have his hernia repaired? Because the hospital where Paul went is the world leader in the field.

    • Stormes says:

      You are absolutely right, I live in PA and I pay %28 federal tax, %4 state tax and %2 local rax. This means I pay %34 of ny income + because I work in a big company I pay %7 health insurance = %41 in top of that i pay for visits, medicines and the after insurance charges. In UK you pay %40 tax and everything almost for free. So how come the rest of the world is not free compared to US????????? Reachest doctors are the American doctors, why????

      • needles says:

        Is this your effective tax rate? If your effective tax rate is 28%, your income must be near the 32% tax bracket (over $161K single, $321K married). PA tax rate is %3. If you are paying 7% of your income in health insurance you have some really expensive insurance or your employer is paying $0 of insurance premium. The average unsubsidized rate for a single person is $440 and a family is $1168 for insurance in the US. There is no doubt, the average US tax payer pays significantly less in taxes than in the UK and that isn’t taking into consideration the gas tax, property taxes (a $400K home would be 22,000 pounds in taxes in the UK…ouch), sales tax is 20%…ouch again).

        • Kirin says:

          You took the words right out of my mouth, except to also say that a good plan costing 7% of income in a 34% tax bracket would provide for 80% of the physician costs and he’d only have to pay a copay

    • Beatricestcyr says:

      I am an American who lived in Ottawa Canada for years, where healthcare was touted as free . However, the quality of care was nowhere near as good as the healthcare offered in the States – even in my tiny little hometown in the US was far superior to what Canada could offer. When my Canadian mother-in-law who was a heavy smoker and developed a suspect cough – we drove her across the border and into the US where she could be properly diagnosed via MRI imaging, something that was unavailable in Ottawa, where she lived… the capital of Canada.

      Things may have changed in Canada but based on occasional news reports from our friends north of the border, it doesn’t sound like it. I love Canada. I am simply stating the facts as they were – and perhaps still are.

    • Lance says:

      I live in NC and we make $64,000 a year. Our PPO HSA Plan has a high deductible but has a zero premium per month. Maybe moving to another state would help.

    • Matthew Mcgregor says:

      How about prescriptions? My medications cost 1100 per month. But Medicare takes care of that. However I am only allowed to make a very minimal amount of money to get these benefits. I am looking for a house right now. But I need to be sure the move is worth it. I also need to be sure I will be able to find a job.

    • Rita Slane says:

      Guess what , My sister in law came within a few hours of dying because this stupid doctor said it was due to a spider bite, she had a ruptured appendix. 2. My brother was admitted to emergency and was there 24 when doctor saw him and asked why he still had his socks and shoes on, well guess what ??? Well when they took off his socks his foot was black and again he almost died!
      3. My mother got sick almost 3 years ago . Doctor told us to gather up the family, we are a huge family, but guess what?! Again it’s been 3 years almost and our beautiful mother is still with us!!!!
      And no thanks to that terrible doctor, she kept avoiding my mother would not give her any tests and went months without seeing her, just because she was elderly just totally ignored her, she had a urine infection!!!!!
      4. This is the worst A good family friend went to emergency because she had a sore stomach (she was diagnosed with cancer a few times but went into remission) so again this insufficient mental doctor said she had colon cancer and had at most 2 weeks to live!! Again gather the family and we can do assisted death. Guess what, she’s going home Saturday after 3 months in hospice where they stuck her !!
      Just but for this angel doctor that was finding it very weird that she was not dying, he decided to take tests NO CANCER This is from only one little city in Ontario. So what do you think of Canadian health care now?????

    • marie copp says:

      I have commented on this before. I have spent time in Italy which has similar healthcare. I was sick there once – they have non-medical persons come to the house – one came and got into lively conversation with my family – never checked my fever, throat or ears or even looked at me – and went away after giving my husband some high antibiotics which were never taken. Nothing explained. Some Italians who need gall bladder or hernia operations wait 6 months before they can get into a hospital – the waiting rooms are filled and not everyone gets to see the doctor they day they wait. You want that?

    • Mary says:

      We all have our own views on the healthcare system. There is no sense in arguing over which is best and discriminating people over what their opinion is. Where are you getting to at this point? People will still have the same opinion the only thing you got was a second of satisfaction by making yourself seem superior.

    • Medical proffesor says:

      Well, if we in America were to have universal healthcare you would be paying around 4/5 of your paycheck just for healthcare.

  • Steven says:

    US healthcare is about money and it’s influence in politics. Human life is expendable, since money and power seem to be more important to health insurance companies and big pharma and hospitals themselves. Its all about the bottom line. Really a shame. Life is so precious and America has lost sight of that. If you get sick, it’s very scary. The end result will be people won’t go to the hospital for fear of cost, and they will die from preventable illnesses. The population will decrease and life expectancy will decrease, and it already has. At some point, it will correct itself, but that will be after the population severely decreases. Is money that important, it’s a medium of exchange. You can’t take it with you. I hope values for humanity come back to this country. I hope people start caring about each other again.

    • The woman says:

      That’s why you buy health insurance. It’s just like car insurance. If people didn’t have car insurance, of course, they would be scared to even drive their car because of the costs.

  • Kevin says:

    Yep the American healthcare wants to bankrupt you. It is very true they only care about money. I is usually $4000 a day to stay in the hospital. I have heard so many people who had stayed in a Hospital longer than 2 to 3 days, got an infection and passed away. When you hear of complications, that usually the case.

  • John lee says:

    I hate this argument about wait lists. Guess what, if canada paid as much as we do per capita, they would eliminate wait lists AND have universal coverage. Canada uses about 12% of gdp on healthcare. Increase this by even 2 percent and waitlists will go down dramatically, and still be less than the 18% of gdp United States pays.

    • Dan says:

      Yeah but you’re still measuring apples and oranges.

      The US has significantly more medical procedure types. We have lots of medical tourism adding to this total, often from Canada.

      In the US, you choose how much you pay for healthcare. In Canada, the money is taken from you as you earn it, with no choice.

      • Dr. L.A. Danka says:

        There are no Canadians coming to the US for Healthcare..This is completely false …Folklore that is still be repeated by the American Healthcare lobby..People visiting the US, fly back to Canada for their HC not flock here for Healthcare.
        These rumors were originally put forth by American Healthcare lobbyists.

        People need to get the facts and stop parroting the great America lie by those who make money from Healthcare.

    • Nathan Smith says:

      My unfortunately ample experience with Canadian healthcare with family members has some waiting longer than the US for non life threatening medical procedures, but super fast if you have an acute medical issue. Both my parents had cancer, and they accessed care incredibly fast (only a few days). I have a friend who was diagnosed with testicular cancer on a Monday, an he was having surgery on Thursday. Naturally my parents and my friend never saw a bill for their healthcare. The Canadian system provided amazing support to my father who had pancreatic cancer – and lived for 10 years after his diagnosis which is rare.

      All said, the Canadian heath system should be federal and not provincial. If you live in one province and travel to another province, technically you are not covered to receive coverage automatically.

    • Kirin says:

      I read that you also pay the provence an equal amount as the Canadian Govt. It’s split 50/50. What I don’t like with the US ACA is the Govt unfair subsidies. We already have a much larger percent of our people on Medicaid than in Canada, so we have a larger load to carry of people who don’t pay anything, which hits the middle class hard. A single person under the ACA pays around $750-800 per month for premiums and then has a high deductible of $6700, costing WAY too much, if they make under $80,000. When you go on the Anthem website and type in incomes of $500,000 you still pay the same as the poor guy making $48,000. There seems to be no subsidy if you are a single person making only $48,000 per year, however a lower premium kicks in somewhere in the low 40s or high 30’s, if I remember right. Start adding kids and the unfair subsidies kick in. If you make $100,000 per year with eight kids your health care costs are $5.00. You get a $2500 subsidy each month. This is total Govt BS. Who created this system anyway? Not to mention the fact that we should not be encouraging people to over breed, since the world already has 2.5 times as many people as it can support.

  • Edward Gunther says:

    Preventative Care seems to be the reason why Canadians need less emergency room visits, and yes it is a fact that the number MRI’s are fewer because of the population difference. But the idea of Canada being self sufficient through everyone’s Contributions is far better than private insurance companies deciding what your doctor can and cannot do…And the tax credits offset medical costs related to medications, dental, and other medical expenditures. But medications in Canada are far less expensive as compared to the U.S. There were a dozen or so folks from Ontario who went to see Robin Trower at the Tralph…( I asked-Are Canadians happy with their Healthcare? The answer was yes-Not perfect, but way better than the States. Because of the fact that there are close to 400 million people in the U.S are Government should be way more responsible than it currently is. Americans are going bankrupt due to Medical bills, and the high cost of Medications. Subsidies that go to private insurance companies is due to the draconian Medicare Advantage bill That was passed by Congress and signed into law by George Bush. If it were not for the Affordable Care Act Passed by the 111th Congress Under President Obama Americans would be denied healthcare because of a Preexisting Condition as well as waste fraud and abuse. But the Republicans tried to repeal the ACA 50 times with no Healthcare plan to replace it with. So I will say this about that… Oh Canada-Glorious and free…We stand on guard…We stand on guard for thee!

    • Kirin says:

      Jeff McCroy was quoting the number of MRI machines per 1 million people, can’t you read? He specifically said 37 machines for 1 million people to 10 machines for one million people.

      The ACA took away many American’s Health care and the middle and lower middle class have been hit over the head with huge premiums do to the ACA. Plus, you don’t force people to have insurance. It’s just NOT right. Opt out should always be an option.

  • Tim says:

    “private insurance companies deciding what your doctor can and cannot do”.

    First that is wrong currently in the U.S.. An insurance company may not cover a procedure but the doctor and the patient have the final say. Once private insurance is made illegal then government will decided what your doctor can and cannot do.

    “Americans are going bankrupt due to Medical bills, and the high cost of Medications”.

    Problematic but very uncommon in the U.S. “A variety of factors cause bankruptcies. Most people with medical debt have other debt. They may also have low income, little savings, and job losses. That makes it difficult to determine whether the bankruptcy was because of medical debt alone. For example, the Kaiser Family Foundation study found that only 3 percent said their bankruptcy was because of medical debt. But another 8 percent said it was because of a combination of medical and other debt.”

    I do no know a sole who went bankrupt because of medical bills.

    Obamacare increased my healthcare costs 3 fold. In fact I quite liked my private insurance pre-Obamacare. The ACA is the perfect Orwellian name as it is the exact opposite of affordable.

    Do I want Canada’s high taxes and “Free” healthcare, with the government having final say on my health along with their wait times? No. Do I want the ACA? No.

    Repeal ACA so I can get affordable healthcare.

    America!, America!
    God shed His grace on thee.

    • Heather says:


    • Jason says:

      How much do you pay in the USA for your healthcare? My employer in BC, Canada, pays $500 per month to cover my entire family of five. This includes dental, prescription and extended health like vision.

      • Gerald says:

        The price that your employer pays is subsidized. Why do you think gas is 1.20 a liter in Canada.In many parts of the Us this is 35 cents a litre. You have @7%GST which pays for this in part. Your tax rates are higher. You are paying more than you understand although per capital Canadians are paying about half of the US COST.

        • Nathan Smith says:

          Very true. In Canada though, you would not get dropped after paying private healthcare then running into a costly medical situation. Peace of mind is important too for yourself, your family, and your friends/neighbors/co-workers. The Canadian system provides and promotes access to early stage medical issues before they get more costly and dire. This probably explains why Canadians live longer than Americans.

          • Diane Oconnor says:

            That’s the best argument for Canada’s healthcare. We pay more than any other country for healthcare and we have tens of millions with absolutely no insurance, while Canadians pay less for healthcare & way less for prescription drugs while the Canadians enjoy living yrs longer, & their birth mortality rate is way less than ours. Hands down, the U.S. should give us an option.

      • Richmond says:

        That’s $20000.00 a year.

    • Nathan Smith says:

      I think the fact the information comes from a conflict of interest (Kaiser Family Foundation) would be a big flag. Would you think Kaiser would say anything that would go against private healthcare?

  • Gerald says:

    Insurance companies in the US make it very onerous for clinicians to get testing approved The average primary care doc spends 40 % of their day in no clinical activities.
    Harvard survey 43% of personal bankruptcies were healthcare related prior to ACA 77% had insurance
    ACA is more expensive because it covers more like mental health and preventive care/ repealing the ACA will lead to cheaper premiums because you will be grossly uninsured
    Actually Medicare in the US HAS FAR MORE Final say than the Canadian government which does not track outcomes by private docs nor swamp doctors in mindless paperwork .It’s stricly fee for service
    US PER CAPITAL DRIVER OF COST Include technologies like MRI/Davinci. Pharmaceuticals and management overhead of both insurance companies and hospitals 25-30% about 40 % of healthcare dollars are wasted in the US .Taxes in Canada are higher but it mandates everyone in which reduces overall cost Medicare overhead in Canada is about 3% unchanged in@50 years
    Short term contracts are negotiated to neighboring states because it is the most cost effective strategy in a country with 39 million rather than to start new programs

  • John says:

    Anything you have to rely on your government to supply you is just a nother thing they, the government, can take away from you should they feel the need. If you don’t think so then you’re blind and would prefer to be sheeple…

    • Gerald says:

      What about corporate pension plans. Doesn’t,t matter who owns the money corporate or government…. It can and is always under threat of dwindling. Not a government issue

  • Elizabeth Olsen says:

    Hello, I was just talking to my husband about Canada and your health system. Ignorant at best. We live in the U.S. and I cover us both through work. Roughly my share paid is approx 7900 per yr. from my payroll. And my employer pays part at approximately 5500. Per yr. so roughly 13k yearly. With all the political holy shit going on over here I find myself agreeing to other newer candidates because their idea to begin universal health would work better for all. It’s sounds wonderful. But, I’m glad I came upon your article and replies! Thanks from this U.S. citizen that needs to educate herself even more! Elizabeth

  • Jose says:

    How can I know how much I can be reimbursed by the health care when buying a wheelchair in Canada?

  • Nathan Smith says:

    If you have a low income in Canada, then you do not pay income taxes; therefore, these low income Canadians receive universal heath care but do not pay for it. Hopefully national pharmacare will be implemented as well as basic dentistry in Canada all other countries with universal healthcare.

    I have read a similar number that it costs approximately $5800 per Canadian for universal healthcare. I have also read it costs over $9000 per each American to fund their non universal healthcare system where 40-50 million are not even covered. Also in countries with universal healthcare, prescription/drug prices are much lower than the same drugs in the US which makes a huge difference sometime.

    Without your health, nothing else matters in life. Canada had the same arguments in the 1960s when they went to universal healthcare like the debates now in the US. Now, you would be pressed to find a Canadian (even a doctor) who would be against universal healthcare. Canadian doctors focus on medicine rather than billing / costs / litigation.

  • Jo says:

    Add 300 million people to Canada’s healthcare system and see what happens. Don’t forget to figure in about 6 million unemployed persons who will not add any tax revenue at all. In addition there are approximately 12 million illegals living in the US that are also not adding any tax revenue. So essentially about half of Canada’s current population would contribute nothing in tax dollars. With that amount of people the taxes will raise substantially and wait times will also increase. According to the article there is currently just one primary care physician per 1000 people. People are trying to compare apples to apples when there is no way to do that. The US in different because of the population and all that implies. Canada does not give free care to non residents and illegals. However in the US if you go to the hospital and you can’t pay you are treated anyway. Obamacare gave the pharmaceutical companies a pass for regulations in exchange for $90 million to help fund Obamacare and we are feeling the effects of it more every day. Doctors and hospitals were forced into set payments for services and insurance companies were required to pay them. No restrictions were put on how much the Pharmaceutical could charge. As a result even drugs that have been out for years have tripled in price. Big Pharma coughed up another $32 billion to help close a large gap in Medicare drug coverage known as the “doughnut hole” — which meant that once seniors got about $2,800 in drug coverage, they were on the hook for all the costs until they hit $6,400, when coverage kicked in again. They also agreed to increase drug discounts in Medicaid to help with the broader financing of the law.

    The drug industry won two other victories as the law took shape that weren’t part of its initial deal. And both are constraining policymakers today.

    One involved a new quasi-government entity — the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute, known as PCORI. It was set up by the Affordable Care Act to test how different medical treatments stack up against one another — but Big Pharma insisted that PCORI would not be able to take cost effectiveness into account — and it doesn’t. As a result they are free to charge whatever they want for drugs.

    Obama Care forces too many things to be covered. People should be able to buy insurance based on their needs not a broad spectrum of coverage they will never use. Before Obama Care work insurance was more affordable and out of pocket costs a lot lower. Our system is still reeling from the effects of Obama Care but the answer is not government ran insurance.

  • Harper says:

    Watched everyone have a go at this. I say it all boils down to a difference in values between the two nations. Either you’re paying up front through taxes and ‘guaranteed’ coverage off the bat or you’re paying through an employer, OOP or well, in a safety net. Truth is neither system is free.

    Although it could be argued that the US system comes off worse fiscally at the end of the day, and it’s got nothing to do with the difference in population size. The argument that we overspend on defense and could put some of those greenbacks in healthcare for equal good is valid considering the terrible lack of oversight going on over at the DoD. (And yes, with a little more fiscal responsibility, our defense activities will remain robustly funded at half the current budget but defense enjoys our generous grace). Also, the fact that we spend so much abroad is what buys us also so much influence (We get into other people’s business so they can’t get into ours). The Canadian waitlisting is just something we Americans won’t buy. Being responsible for your own healthcare also gets more Americans to work, plus there is the question of moral hazard.

    I genuinely feel we are at the forefront of Medical technology because its been made so profitable in America. Yea I know, what’s the use if it’s not equally accessible? Obamacare was a noble idea except that it lacked bipartisan support which meant it was doomed at coitus. I say its noble because for any insurance policy to work effectively, there needs to be a guaranteed risk pool(hence the individual mandate), and the larger the pool, the lower prices can get. However, government support (especially Congress) was needed to set a price mechanism (which was apparently lacking due to left-right division). Remember also, Americans don’t like to be told what to do?

    With broad, genuine support, I feel the ACA idea could be modified to mirror the way the universal life insurance policy works.Individuals will mandatorily pay into an elective health fund offered by insurance companies but regulated by the govt. The funds can then be available to the individual for other purposes after a certain point in life. We could argue that’s how the HSA currently works but then the individual mandate must be restored. This brings me back to my opening statement, it all boils down to a difference in values; neither system is free but we Americans are paying a lot more overall for a lot less.

  • jean says:

    Most of my family is living in US. So here is where healthcare is most different. My aunt’s monthly nursing home bill was $8000.00 per month in Delaware, and my best friend’s mom was also $8,000.00 a month in New Jersey. First they mortgaged her house, then sold it. Her Mom died without a cent to her name. My uncle in Canada has been in a nursing home almost five years, at $2600.00 per month. The facility is excellent. In comparing my taxes with my relatives, we have basically the same deductions. Some of them have good coverage, some have none. My husband had heart surgery, and met an American in Florida who asked him how much did that chest zipper cost you. Turns out the American paid over $100,000.00 for his. Our biggest cost was the $5.00 for parking the car for 5 days at the hospital.

  • Alex says:

    I am from Canada, Montreal. Waiting time for MRI test is 3 month. Waiting list to see a Neurosurgeon is one year.

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