Like the United States, Canada is aging rapidly. By 2021, my native land will have more seniors than children under 14 for the first time in its history. It’s no wonder nearly 9 in 10 Canadians are worried about the growing number of seniors who will need more healthcare, according to a recent Ipsos poll.
Those worries are well-founded. Canada’s healthcare system already forces patients to wait months for necessary care. An aging population will make those waits worse. Just maintaining the system’s dismal status quo will require huge new taxes on top of the already-high out-of-pocket costs that Canadians absorb.
So much for Canada’s “free” healthcare. The existential problems facing Canada’s single-payer system should serve as a warning to those sympathetic to calls for so-called “Medicare for All” in the United States.
Each year, the average single Canadian pays more than $4,600 in taxes for healthcare, according to a 2018 report from the Fraser Institute. The average family of four faces a tax bill of almost $13,000 to cover the cost of healthcare.
That doesn’t even cover their full healthcare bill. Canadians must pay for things like home care, dental care, and prescription drugs out of pocket. Private payments account for about 30% of Canada’s healthcare spending.
Out-of-pocket costs are expected to increase. Six in 10 Canadians think many of their fellow citizens will delay retirement to afford healthcare.
What do Canadians get for all the money they spend? Long waits, for one. In 2018, Canadians waited a median 19.8 weeks for treatment from a specialist after getting a referral from a general practitioner.
U.S. lawmakers must learn from Canada’s mistakes — and abandon any ideas of a complete takeover of healthcare by the government.