Canada’s system is called Medicare, and is much like Medicare in the U.S. except it treats virtually the entire Canadian population of 33 million, its a single-payer system, in which the government picks up the tab i.e. the tax payer.
Canadians have complaints about their health care system such as long waits for elective care, including appointments with specialists and selected surgical procedures; shortages of doctors and nurses, particularly in rural areas; and the growing costs of covering an aging population.
The Canadian Medical Association wants to mix private insurance into the government monopoly. There have been lawsuits demanding the right to buy private health insurance.
Canadians do pay higher taxes than Americans, the average family pays about 48 percent of its annual income in taxes, partly to fund the health care system.
“It is in fact a very poor health care system that regularly fails Canadians,” says Nadeem Esmail of the Fraser Institute, a Canadian think tank.
He said Canada has the developed world’s second most expensive universal health care system yet lags behind other industrialized countries in access to medical technologies and physician-to-population ratios. He noted that Canadians on average had to wait longer to see a specialist or receive elective surgery than in other developed countries with universal health care.
Canadians are barred from purchasing private medical insurance for services covered by the government, and doctors cannot charge patients extra fees. Excluded services are optometry, dentistry and outpatient prescription drugs
Outgoing CMA president Robert Ouellet told a news conference that most doctors “believe there is an urgent need to fix Canada’s health care system,” “We need to stop deceiving ourselves into believing that we have the best health care system in the world,” he said.