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article imageStudy: Canadians face long wait between diagnosis and treatment

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By Larry Clifton     Aug 11, 2012 in Health
The Canadian health care system forces patients to endure long waits in emergency rooms and multiple visits to doctors on work days, wasting time and affecting the quality of care, according to a report in The Montreal Gazette.
A new study released by the Fraser Institute estimates Canada “lost $1.08-billion in business-day economic activity” because of excessive wait times at hospitals and gaps in time between seeing doctors and receiving treatment, according to the Montreal Gazette.
The study estimates that, adding patient's hours missed at work to the equation, the Canadian economy loses approximately $3.29-billion in productivity each year, not counting the residual losses associated with the energy, time and money family members spend providing care and transportation for loved ones receiving inefficient care in the system.
Senior fellow at the Fraser Institute, Nadeem Esmail, says the study was done to measure the efficiency of the healthcare system outside the quality-of-care debate, which generally dominates discussion on Canadian health care.
“Rationing health care in Canada doesn’t just deprive patients of timely access to necessary medical treatment… it also causes them to lose out on wages, productivity and enjoyment in life while they wait,” he says.
According to the study, each patient loses about $3,490 each year waiting an estimated “9.5 weeks between the time they see a specialist and the time they are able to receive care,” according to the Gazette report.
In the past few years, spending on health care in Canada has escalated at a much quicker pace than most other industrialized nations. The increased spending originates from a continual transfer of government healthcare-dedicated funding from Ottawa to provincial coffers. Key to the increased funding debate is how each province disperses tax dollars for health care and how the money is spent.
Canada’s poor productivity in health care and other industries relative to other industrialized nations is fast becoming a political football. Mr. Esmail says Canada’s leaders need to begin examining more efficient means of providing health care that include a parallel private care model that is open to competition.
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