Updated: Dec 10, 2019
The Canadian Healthcare system has always been admired by countries around the world, however, when compared through the Health Care System Performance Score, Canada scores 9th out of 11 countries (Commonwealth Fund Analysis, 2017). Our biggest comparison is the US, and yes due to our universal system it is better in some ways but most European countries have much superior healthcare systems.
I’ve been a nurse for 17 years and worked in acute and primary care in both urban, rural and remote areas in Canada. I believe our healthcare system is broken.
It wasn’t until I lived in Prague for a year that I realized how significantly broken our system is.
Before living abroad, I thought I was just burned out, that I was flawed in my thinking. I thought my patients and my family had just had bad experiences and I was in disbelief that the entire system functioned like this. I believed my thoughts regarding our healthcare system were silly and that I had unrealistic expectations.
While living in Europe I had the opportunity to work for a company that sourced and auditing healthcare providers and facilities for the US military all over Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. I got to witness healthcare in Europe first hand by talking to providers, touring facilities and discussing care expectations with patients. What I saw over there that doesn’t exist in Canada was:
Healthcare was accessible
Patients could easily access care either through a private or public system.
Long waitlists to see a primary provider didn’t exist, you could get an appointment in days.
There were Urgent Care facilities near or close to ER departments to divert less urgent issues away from hospitals.
There were no delays in seeing specialists, this could and would occur within days to a few weeks.
Wait times for surgeries such as joint replacements were 6-8 weeks post-diagnosis.
The private system took the pressure off the public system to decrease wait times for surgical lists.
There was a focus on Wellness
Taking time off to heal was encouraged, a week off work for a cold was commonplace not only for your own recovery but to prevent spreading illnesses to others.
Healthier lifestyles are encouraged – less food, more exercise, stress management with adequate vacation time and shorter workdays.
Prescriptions for nature, exercise and supplements are common practice.
Most countries have benefits that include chiropractic services, eye care, dental and if not the employer’s benefits or flexible spending accounts provide adequate coverage.