Where Does Canadian Health Care Fall With Health Care and Other OECD Countries?

Many countries have universal health care but not all of them are run the same way.  Each year, the Fraser Institute monitors activity with the Canadian health care system tracking wait times and efficiency.  Canada, overall, spends more on health care than the majority of other high income countries with universal health care systems.  It ranks the second highest for expenditure on health care as a percentage of GDP and 8th highest for health care per capita.

Seeing the numbers for what they are can be incredibly disappointing.  The most recent study calculated a ‘value for money approach’ with 28 other high income countries.

The four categories studied were:

  1. Availability of resources
  2. Use of resources
  3. Access to resources
  4. Quality and clinical performance

Availability of resources

A basic requirement for a properly functioning health-care system is having availability of medical resources. Data suggests that Canada has substantially fewer human and capital medical resources than many peer jurisdictions that spend comparable amounts of money on health care. After adjustment for age, it has significantly fewer physicians, acute-care beds, and psychiatric beds per capita compared to the average of OECD countries included in the study. It ranks close to the average for nurses and ranked eighth for the number of long-term care beds (per 1,000 over the age of 65). While Canada has the third most Gamma cameras (per million population, age-adjusted), it has fewer other medical technologies than the average high-income OECD country with universal health care for which comparable inventory data are available.

Use of resources

Canada’s performance is mixed in terms of use of resources.  We ‘perform at higher rates than the average OECD country on under half the indicators examined (for example, cataract surgery and knee replacement), and average to lower rates on the rest. Canada reports the least degree of hospital activity (as measured by rates for curative-care discharges) in the group of countries studied.’

Access to resources

Canada ranked last (or close to last) on four indicators of timeliness of care; and ranked seventh (out of ten) on the indicator measuring the percentage of patients who reported that cost was a barrier to access.’

Quality and clinical performance

‘While Canada does well on five indicators of clinical performance and quality (such as rates of survival for breast, colon, and rectal cancers), its performance on the seven others examined in this study are either no different from the average or in some cases—particularly obstetric traumas and diabetes-related amputations—worse.’

Canadians spend a great deal of money in the way of taxes for their health care.  It is also one of the most expensive health care systems in the OECD.  Unfortunately, the research found shows that the performance for availability for access to resources is below the average OECD country.  The performance for use of resources, quality and clinical performance is mixed.

You can read the full report here.


Health Vantis




Travel Insurance vs Complications Coverage

Travel Insurance vs Complications Coverage

We get a lot of calls from people looking for complications coverage if they are traveling for medical treatment.  This can often times be confused for traditional travel insurance.  You will quickly find that they are not the same kind of coverage.  Below we will explain the difference:

Travel Insurance

Travel policies were created to cover the cost of damage to personal property, for instance, baggage, rented equipment such as rental cars, trip cancellation, acute medical expense coverage, accidental death and/or flight accident coverage.  Other things it might cover could be emergency assistance for lost passports, cash wires, and re-booking of canceled flights.  

There is also a different kind of travel insurance called interruption coverage.  This is to cover you should there be an illness, death in the immediate family, sudden business conflict or weather related issues.  This coverage will reimburse you for pre-paid, non-refundable travel expenses.

Keep in mind that there are all kinds of clauses and exclusions to these polices.  One important one is the misunderstanding that ‘medical coverage’ is available for pre-existing conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure   Nearly all of these policies exclude pre-existing conditions.  If you are traveling for a scheduled surgery, this kind of policy will not cover you.  If you have a heart disorder and have a heart attack while traveling, this policy will not cover you.  What it will cover are instances where accidents occur and need immediate attention such as  a fall that required stitches or a car accident that required medical care.

The best advice is to read your contract in full detail to know and understand what is and what is not included.

Complications Coverage

When you realize travel insurance will not cover a scheduled surgery, you will likely spend hours looking for options that will.  We can save you a lot of time.  There is only 1 company we know of that provides complication coverage to Canadians traveling for medical care due to the uniqueness of the travel.  That company is called Global Protective Solutions (GPS).  It is designed to cover you should there be complications as a result of a scheduled surgery.  

The policy will cover you for up to 180 days post initial surgery.  Additional medical or surgical treatment must be completed within a 270 day period.

Like most policies, there are limitations.  For example, if you do not follow all of the pre and post operative medical instructions, you will not be covered.  If you have an aesthetic procedure and you do not like the outcome, you will not be covered.  Just like a travel policy, read the details close to know what is an acceptable reason for reimbursement.

Also keep in mind that most coverages on either kind of policy have maximum benefits for each specific need.  Key take away, be sure to read the policy fully.  If you do not understand a certain clause, contact the company for clarification. 

Can I Have Joint Replacement Surgery If I’ve Recently Had a Cortisone Injection?

Can I Have Joint Replacement Surgery If I’ve Recently Had a Cortisone Injection?

Hip and knee replacements usually occur due to severe osteoarthritis.  By the time you are deemed a candidate for this joint replacement surgery, you have probably exhausted all treatments, one of them being a steroid/cortisone injection.  These are often prescribed to decrease inflammation and alleviate pain.  Unfortunately, there is a draw back to using them if you are scheduled to have a joint replacement within 3 months of having the injection.

Steroid/cortisone injections suppress the body’s immune system.  Patients that have suppressed immune systems are always at a higher risk for severe infections that can be difficult to control and can result in additional surgery, prolonged antibiotic medication and even death.

One study showed that injections given within 3 months of a total hip replacement had a 40% higher rate of postoperative periprosthetic infection.  Studies done on those who had a steroid/cortisone injection 3 months or later did not show an increased risk of infections at all.  While there are no specific recommendations on how long to wait for you to proceed with your surgery, most doctors will wait for 3 months or longer.  

If you are in need of a hip or knee replacement and do not want to wait, contact us for private surgery options!

Health Vantis