UK, US, and Canuck Health Care Systems — Has Canada Really Got It That Bad?

Healthcare in Canada UK USYou remember our little discussion the other day about the differences in financial systems? Yeah, well, I’m still thinkin about the general idea of how different our cultures are. I’ve found the health care debates in the US particularly fascinating. Now, I wonder if Canada has the best idea

Health Care In The UK

The social health care system in the UK seems to be a hybrid between the US and Canadian systems. For instance, it costs them nothing to see a doctor during the day. However, if they’d like a private session after hours, the patient makes the arrangements and pays for the service. Seems fair enough to me. Oh, and like Canada, there’s often a waiting list to get in for some services.

When it comes to prescriptions, UK residents play a flat fee per medication. However, those with a low income can apply for free prescriptions (Now this is something Canada could certainly use!) This all sounds good, but not everything in terms of healthcare is free. For example, women in the UK are getting Botox injections and facelifts to look younger. And, because these are an elective treatment, the costs fall fully on the patient, but they actually aren’t that horribly expensive.

Canadian Health Care

I’ll admit that I’ve spent a lot of time going through the health care system, and I have to say that generally, it’s pretty darn good. Yes, we have a significant issue with waiting lists. And yes, there seems to be a ‘get ’em in and get ’em out’ attitude in some places, but I’ve never been turned away for care. Ever. Even when I panicked as a first time mom, and ran to the emergency for my son’s first cold.

I’ve also paid for elective surgeries and treatments. Unfortunately, this also includes regular, everyday items like birth control pills, even when it was for medical reasons rather than for preventing pregnancy. And like those living in the UK, I’ve considered plastic surgery such as a tummy tuck, which I’m going to have to pay for regardless where we live. It doesn’t bother me though. I mean it’s like choosing between an old Ford Taurus and a Lexus right? Not necessary. Just nice.

I do think that Canada could take a few cues from the US and the UK when it comes to private care.

What Canada Can Learn From US and the UK

In the US, the government wants to offer government run insurance, and it sounds to me like they’ll also have some government run facilities. If you can afford to buy insurance and think a private company can offer your family something better. And, as I mentioned before, doctors can work privately after hours.

Why can’t Canada adopt similar policies? If you want to get in faster, or have an elective surgery, why can’t you pay for it all? You’d get what you want as a patient, the doctors could earn extra money, and it would ease some of the strain on our health care system? Makes sense to me. If you don’t want to pay for it, or can’t afford it, you’re good.

I don’t know. What do you think? Overall, I think Canadians have it pretty good.

(This post also appears on Travel the Prairies at


2 thoughts on “UK, US, and Canuck Health Care Systems — Has Canada Really Got It That Bad?

  1. Methinks one needs to personally know Americans how much work around their life decisions because they desperately hang onto their private health care insurance because for many still provided by employers.

    For instance: divorcing couple might stay together longer just to get the health care benefit off the working spouse.

    Or not wanting to leave job…because the employer offers a health care benefit.

    It will take Obama’s health care reforms (watered down alot because the private health insurers and pharamaceuticals are too powerful).

    Whereas here in Canada we don’t think this way. By the way, Alberta is my newest home province. And the health care in this province is not as efficient as in Vancouver BC or in Toronto, Ont. I’m a little surprised how full the caseload of family doctors are in Calgary.

    Keep blogging! Let me know what you think of my comments re prairies, ranchland country..

    • Well, I thought Alberta has relatively good healthcare. I’ve always been able to get into the doctors here, usually within an hour or so of waiting, even at the walk-ins. Calgary may be different, since it’s the major center. It takes on all the serious cases from the outlying areas as well as the city case. Saskatchewan, on the other hand, is a nightmare. Currently, there are entire regions without doctors. Unless you’re at death’s door, they don’t want to see you.

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