Canadians not getting good value for money on health care insurance: Fraser Institute

Canada's publicly funded health care system is too costly and lags behind other countries when it comes to delivering services, according to a new report by the Fraser Institute.

In the paper released Wednesday, the right-wing think tank notes that Canada spends 11.4 per cent of its GDP on health insurance expenditures - ranking it the sixth highest for health spending in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

What we're getting in return, however, isn't up to snuff.

In 2009 - the most recent data available - Canada ranked 19th out of 28 countries for the number of practicing physicians per 1,000 people, 12th for number of nurses per 1,000 people and tied for last for the number of acute care beds per 1,000 people.

The lessons for Canada, the report suggests, is that some type of "patient cost sharing" is required.

"This analysis suggests that relative to the majority of OECD countries, Canada's health insurance system does not produce good value for the money," claim the report's authors.

"Importantly, almost all of the countries that ranked above Canada in the availability of medical resources and services had some or all of the following health insurance policies in common: (1) Consumer/patient cost sharing for publicly funded medical goods and services; (2) medical goods and services are financed through some form of public-private social insurance...; (3) comprehensive private health insurance options are permitted; and (4) private for-profit hospitals are permitted to bill public health insurer(s) for services."

Other findings from the report:

- The United States spends the most on health care among 28 OECD countries at 17.4 per of GDP. They are followed by the Netherlands (12 per cent), France (11.8 per cent), Germany (11.6 per cent), and Denmark (11.5 per cent).

- Canada is only one of four among 28 OECD countries that does not require cost sharing for services performed in publicly funded hospitals by general physicians or specialists.

- Canada is the only country among the 28 where private comprehensive medical insurance is effectively prohibited.