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article imageHealthcare wait times in Canada now cost $1 billion Special

By Tim Sandle     Mar 25, 2014 in Health
Toronto - Canadians lost a combined $1.1 billion, or an average of $1,202 per patient, as a result of lengthy waits for medically necessary health care in 2013, according to a new study revealed to Digital Journal.
The study is titled “The Private Cost of Public Queues for Medically Necessary Care” and it was conducted by the Fraser Institute. The research calculates the average value of time lost during the work week for each of the estimated 928,120 patients waiting for surgery in Canada last year.
When calculations include hours outside the work week, excluding eight hours of sleep per night, the estimated cost of waiting jumps from $1.1 billion to $3.4 billion. This is an average of $3,681 per patient.
To find out more, Digital Journal spoke with Nadeem Esmail, study author and Fraser Institute director of health policy studies. Esmail said: “The negative impact of wait times on the productivity of patients and their ability to participate fully in life is an issue too often ignored in the health care debate. Reduced productivity in the workplace, or reduced ability to engage with family and friends, may impact family income and increase stress for Canadian patients.”
Esmail proceeded to highlight some of the other findings from the report. Despite a period of improvement (2004 to 2009) in both wait times (from specialist to treatment) and the private cost of waiting, notes the study, since 2009 wait times have increased along with the cost borne by patients. Consequently, the private cost of waiting is now two per cent higher (after inflation) than in 2004.
The report also showed that among the provinces, residents of Saskatchewan faced the highest private cost of waiting per patient ($2,022), followed by Manitoba ($1,977) and Nova Scotia ($1,732). Patients in Ontario endured the lowest private cost of waiting ($867), followed by Quebec ($1,079) and British Columbia ($1,191).
In terms of moving forward, Esmail notes that “Without sensible health policy reform, waiting will remain a defining characteristic of the Canadian health care experience, and delays, while negatively impacting the health and wellbeing of patients, will also continue to rob patients of valuable time.”
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