Essay Example on US vs Canada: Comparing Healthcare Systems

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  4
Wordcount:  1096 Words
Date:  2023-05-23

This paper will summarize two developed countries' healthcare systems, and they are the United States and Canada. In both countries, I will use the data on healthcare expenditures out of GDP spending and also per capita to compare and analyze the advantages and disadvantages of each system. Also, I will provide each country's healthcare policies and arguments made by advocate groups, which will help us to analyze them at the end.

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The problem with US healthcare is that it has privatized the polices, and it is too expensive for the middle class to buy regular coverage. Without insurance, the average individual cannot afford quality healthcare. According to the health system tracker organization, data shows that health care spending in the United States is repeatedly increased from 1970 to 2019. It also shows the healthcare expenditures based on the countries' GDP, which is shockingly high in the United States. In 2019, US healthcare expenditures out of GDP were almost 18 percent (Rabah Kamal, Daniel McDermott, and Cynthia Cox). The same data shows that since 1970, the individual spending on health care has been increased. For example, in 2018, personal spending or healthcare spending per capita was around 11 thousand dollars (Rabah Kamal, Daniel McDermott, and Cynthia Cox). Therefore, this increase in individual healthcare payments leaves most middle class very upset. They think that they are not equally treated, and health care is a privilege, unlike in Canada.

Canada, on the other hand, spends a relatively small amount on healthcare and has a single-payer system. According to (National Health Expenditure Trends, 1975 to 2017), total healthcare expenditures in Canada is around 12 percent of the GDP, which makes individual spending around six thousand per capita. That is the massive difference between the US and Canada between the healthcare policy; the US has privatized primary healthcare while Canadas 70 % is public. Canada's single-payer system, which, according to Harvard Medical School contributor, Andrea S. Christopher, MD, explains is that private companies do not compete and set regulations and prices for healthcare. Besides, it is distributed equally to everyone. Which unfortunately is opposite in the United States. She also emphasized that the United States has a sort of mixed healthcare system, which is very complicated and has negative effects on life expectancy (Christopher, 2016). A single-payer system is what makes the most Canadians to not worry about the cost of healthcare as people can eventually afford a minimum that satisfies individual needs in terms of healthcare.

In the United States, on the other hand, primary healthcare is privatized, and only the poor and the elderly can have medicare, which means that majority of the population does not have proper healthcare. Even though people who have privatized insurance plans, they do not get equal service (Portes, Light, & Fernandez-Kelly, 2009). Besides, there is also a big difference between these two countries in terms of the taxation of people. Some people argue that a single-payer system would not be the perfect fit for the US because it will make people pay more in taxes.

In Canada, people are paying more taxes than in the United States and even those people who agree on a single-payer system, also agree that it will increase the taxes tremendously in the US (Baldacci, 2018). However, the single-payer healthcare system also has some errors; according to Meridian Baldacci, "in 2017, Canadians were on waiting lists for an estimated 1,040,791 total procedures. Often, wait times are lengthy. For example, the median wait time for arthroplasty surgery (hip, knee, ankle, shoulder) ranges from 20 weeks to 52 weeks" (Baldacci, 2018), Which unfortunately doesn't guarantee perfection in the United States, especially when you compare the size of the population.

However, Canadians at least have the hope that the government will not let them down because of social class or income. This is one of the enormous problems in the United States that private insurance companies treat people like a product based on their income or marital status. Deductibles and copayments, which is a considerable concern for the US middle-class individuals, are way too high that they cannot afford the pay; this automatically discriminates them compared to rich people, writes (Tomlinson 2016.)


Arguably, most individuals would say that human life is not marketable, and countries should do everything to make sure their citizens are protected and have the right to equal healthcare. Maybe they should decrease spending's on other things such as the military and concentrate more on income transfers such as social security benefits and general welfare, which will increase the quality of healthcare too. A massive problem in the US now is that country is so polarized politically that it cannot even concentrate on collective goods such as health care.

The only thing that the US can copy from Canada is not to prioritize military power over health care. According to (Robert Artiga-Valencia, 2019), "The United States spends s' more on the military than 144 countries," which compromises healthcare in the US. This is what brings us back to the fundamental economic question, "what, how, and to whom." But in this case of healthcare, what and how is already figured out. The problem is "to whom" question that makes tremendous inequality in the US healthcare system.


Andrea S. Christopher. (2016, June 27). Single-payer healthcare: Pluses, minuses, and what it means for you. Retrieved from Harvard Health Publishing:

Artiga-Valencia, R. (2019, July 18). The US Spends More on Its Military Than 144 Countries Combined. Retrieved from National Priorities Project:

information, C. I. (2019). How does Canada's health spending compare? Retrieved from the Canadian Institute for Health Information:

Information., C. I. (2017). National Health Expenditure Trends, 1975 to 2017. CIHI, 45.

Meridian Baldacci, R. E. (2018, September 26). Why Single-Payer Would Make Health Care Worse for Americans. Retrieved from the heritage foundation:

Pennsylvania, U. o. (2017, May 19). Is Canada the Right Model for a Better US Health Care System? Retrieved from Wharton University of Pennsylvania:

Rabah Kamal, D. M. (2019, December 20). How has US spending on healthcare changed over time? Retrieved from Health System Tracker Search:

Tomlinson, C. (2016, July 12). Wealthy get more health care than other Americans. Retrieved from physicians for a National Health Program:

Portes, A., Light, D., & Fernandez-Kelly, P. (2009). The US Health System and Immigration: An Institutional Interpretation. Sociological Forum (Randolph, N.J.), 24(3), 487-514.

Ridic, G., Gleason, S., & Ridic, O. (2012). Comparisons of health care systems in the United States, Germany, and Canada. Materia socio-medical, 24(2), 112-120.

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