Besides the obvious differences between the United States and our friendly neighbors to the north — Canadian vs. real bacon, ice hockey vs. football, Tim Hortons vs. Dunkin Donuts — there’s an entire world of separation when it comes to setting up health benefits for each nation’s respective citizens. The U.S. is making strides toward a more progressive system with the passing of the Affordable Care Act, but even that’s having trouble getting off the ground. In fact, 91% of Canadians say they prefer their healthcare system to what we have here in the U.S., according to a survey from the Strategic Counsel. So, what makes Canada’s system so much better?
Canadian health care systems
In Canada, citizens will pay into their healthcare system via having certain amounts taken from their typical paychecks. This makes the system publicly funded and, by extension, mostly free of charge — with the exception of relative low occasional co-pays. There are no government-established healthcare centers, either. Instead, private companies provide nearly all the services.
Deductibles and co-pays
We mentioned above that medical co-pays are usually fairly low, and that’s because most of the costs are handled through employers and the health benefits plans they set up for their workers. In the United States, many medical expenses are covered via deductibles, or money that gets subtracted from an individual’s annual income. Canada opts for no deductibles on basic health services, instead featuring several solid employee benefit programs that cover these costs.
Canada also boasts a strong program for getting elderly and indigent citizens the medications they need. This is achieved mostly through the use of public funds, which everyone else pays into. Consider it like Medicare in the U.S., without all the messy red tape and fine print of that particular system.
Landing health benefits through employment
Though basic medical expenses are typically covered, nearly three-quarters of Canadians also have additional ways to handle what’s not covered in those basic plans. These supplementary plans usually come from some type of employee health benefits plans, including but not limited to a health savings account or other plans. Think of these types of employee benefits as safety nets to ensure Canadians will hardly ever go broke simply because they can’t afford their medical bills. For more information see this.