Skip to main content

Privatized US health care falls behind. Don't let it come to Canada.

The U.S. health care system is responsible for the slower rise in life expectancy in the U.S. compared with other developed countries (including Canada) which have universal health care coverage, according to a new U.S. research study.

The Ottawa Citizen reports the study, by a team at New York's Columbia University, ruled out other factors that are often blamed for the relatively short life expectancy in the US (such as obesity, smoking, traffic accidents and a U.S. murder rate that is among the highest in the developed world).

Researchers compared U.S. health-care spending and mortality statistics with those of Australia, Austria, Belgium, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland.  The study found that life expectancy and health-care costs from 1975 to 2005 rose in all the countries, but costs climbed faster in the United States, while lifespan rose more slowly.

Researchers reported that the United States was fifth among the leading industrialized countries in 1950 with respect to life expectancy at birth for women. But figures as recent as last month show the United States ranked 49th for male and female life expectancy combined.

Many defenders of the private, insurance-centred U.S. health-care system blame lifestyle factors for the discrepancy.  But the study found that the prevalence of obesity has grown more slowly than in other nations, while the number of smokers has declined more rapidly.  It also determined that the number of deaths from traffic accidents and homicides had remained stable over time, meaning they were also unlikely to account for the relative fall in survival rates.

Health-care spending per capita in the United States rose at nearly twice the rate of the other countries between the years 1970 and 2002. One recent estimate puts it at $7,290 per person — well over twice the median expenditure of industrialized nations.

Canadian advocates of the privatization of health care often downplay the US model, sometimes claiming that they are really advocating a European model.  However, public healthcare is usually broader and stronger in European countries than in Canada.  Moreover, the US is the leader in privatized health care, with for-profit corporations running a wide variety of services.

With such results, it is hardly surprising that advocates of privatization prefer to talk about something other than the privatized U.S. system. 

The study can be found here


Popular posts from this blog

Health care funding falls, again

Real provincial government health care funding per-person has fallen again this year in Ontario, the third year in a row.  Since 2009 real funding per-person has fallen 2.6% -- $63 per person. 

Across Canada real per person funding is in its fourth consecutive year of increase. Since 2009, real provincial funding across Canada is up $89 -- 3.6%.
In fact the funding gap between Ontario and Canada as a whole has gown consistently for years (as set out below in current dollars).

Ontario funds health care less than any other province -- indeed, the province that funds health care the second least (B.C.) provides $185 more per person per year, 4.7% more.  
Provincial health care spending in the rest of Canada (excluding Ontario) is now  $574 higher per person annually than in Ontario. 

 Ontario has not always provided lower than average health care funding increases-- but that has been the general pattern since 2005.
Private expenditures on health care have exceeded Ontario government increases …

Ontario long-term care staffing falls far short of other provinces

CUPE and others are campaigning for a legislated minimum average of four worked hours of nursing and personal care per resident per day in long-term care (LTC) facilities.  New research indicates that not only is LTC underfunded in Ontario, it is also understaffed compared to the other provinces. 
LTC staffing falls short:  The latest data published by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (and based on a mandatory survey undertaken by Statistics Canada) indicates that staffing at long-term care (LTC) facilities falls far short of other provinces. 
Part of this is driven by a low level of provincial funding for LTC.

Ontario has 0.575 health care full-time equivalent employees (FTEs) per bed staffed and in operation.[1]  The rest of Canada reports 0.665 health care FTEs.[2] The rest of Canada has 15.7% more health care staff per bed staffed and in operation than Ontario.[3] 

No other province reports fewer LTC health care staff per resident (or per bed) than Ontario.[4]

Occupancy r…

Six more problems with Public Private Partnerships (P3s)

The Auditor General (AG) has again identified issues in her annual reportwhich reflect problems with Ontario health care capacity and privatization.   First, here are six key problems with the maintenance of the 16 privatized P3 ("public private partnership") hospitals in Ontario:
There are long-term ongoing disputes with privatized P3 contractors over the P3 agreements, including about what is covered by the P3  (or “AFP” as the government likes to call them) contract.The hospitals are required to pay higher than reasonable rates tothe P3 contractor for  maintenance work the contractor has deemed to be outside of the P3 contract. Hospitals are almost forced to use P3 contractors to do maintenance work the contractors deem outside of the P3 contract or face the prospect of transferring the risk associated with maintaining the related hospital assets from the private-sector company back to the hospitalP3 companies with poor perf…