21 Ways the Canadian Health Care System is Better than Obamacare by Ralph Nader

Medicare for All

Illustration by Sarah Kaiser via juhansonin via Flickr

Dandelion Salad

by Ralph Nader
The Nader Page
November 21, 2013

Dear America:

Costly complexity is baked into Obamacare. No health insurance system is without problems but Canadian style single-payer full Medicare for all is simple, affordable, comprehensive and universal.

In the early 1960s, President Lyndon Johnson enrolled 20 million elderly Americans into Medicare in six months. There were no websites. They did it with index cards!

Below please find 21 Ways the Canadian Health Care System is Better than Obamacare.

Repeal Obamacare and replace it with the much more efficient single-payer, everybody in, nobody out, free choice of doctor and hospital.

Love, Canada

Number 21:
In Canada, everyone is covered automatically at birth – everybody in, nobody out.

In the United States, under Obamacare, 31 million Americans will still be uninsured by 2023 and millions more will remain underinsured.

Number 20:
In Canada, the health system is designed to put people, not profits, first.

In the United States, Obamacare will do little to curb insurance industry profits and will actually enhance insurance industry profits.

Number 19:
In Canada, coverage is not tied to a job or dependent on your income – rich and poor are in the same system, the best guaranty of quality.

In the United States, under Obamacare, much still depends on your job or income. Lose your job or lose your income, and you might lose your existing health insurance or have to settle for lesser coverage.

Number 18:
In Canada, health care coverage stays with you for your entire life.

In the United States, under Obamacare, for tens of millions of Americans, health care coverage stays with you for as long as you can afford your share.

Number 17:
In Canada, you can freely choose your doctors and hospitals and keep them. There are no lists of “in-network” vendors and no extra hidden charges for going “out of network.”

In the United States, under Obamacare, the in-network list of places where you can get treated is shrinking – thus restricting freedom of choice – and if you want to go out of network, you pay for it.

Number 16:
In Canada, the health care system is funded by income, sales and corporate taxes that, combined, are much lower than what Americans pay in premiums.

In the United States, under Obamacare, for thousands of Americans, it’s pay or die – if you can’t pay, you die. That’s why many thousands will still die every year under Obamacare from lack of health insurance to get diagnosed and treated in time.

Number 15:
In Canada, there are no complex hospital or doctor bills. In fact, usually you don’t even see a bill.

In the United States, under Obamacare, hospital and doctor bills will still be terribly complex, making it impossible to discover the many costly overcharges.

Number 14:
In Canada, costs are controlled. Canada pays 10 percent of its GDP for its health care system, covering everyone.

In the United States, under Obamacare, costs continue to skyrocket. The U.S. currently pays 18 percent of its GDP and still doesn’t cover tens of millions of people.

Number 13:
In Canada, it is unheard of for anyone to go bankrupt due to health care costs.

In the United States, under Obamacare, health care driven bankruptcy will continue to plague Americans.

Number 12:
In Canada, simplicity leads to major savings in administrative costs and overhead.

In the United States, under Obamacare, complexity will lead to ratcheting up administrative costs and overhead.

Number 11:
In Canada, when you go to a doctor or hospital the first thing they ask you is: “What’s wrong?”

In the United States, the first thing they ask you is: “What kind of insurance do you have?”

Number 10:
In Canada, the government negotiates drug prices so they are more affordable.

In the United States, under Obamacare, Congress made it specifically illegal for the government to negotiate drug prices for volume purchases, so they remain unaffordable.

Number 9:
In Canada, the government health care funds are not profitably diverted to the top one percent.

In the United States, under Obamacare, health care funds will continue to flow to the top. In 2012, CEOs at six of the largest insurance companies in the U.S. received a total of $83.3 million in pay, plus benefits.

Number 8:
In Canada, there are no necessary co-pays or deductibles.

In the United States, under Obamacare, the deductibles and co-pays will continue to be unaffordable for many millions of Americans.

Number 7:
In Canada, the health care system contributes to social solidarity and national pride.

In the United States, Obamacare is divisive, with rich and poor in different systems and tens of millions left out or with sorely limited benefits.

Number 6:
In Canada, delays in health care are not due to the cost of insurance.

In the United States, under Obamacare, patients without health insurance or who are underinsured will continue to delay or forgo care and put their lives at risk.

Number 5:
In Canada, nobody dies due to lack of health insurance.

In the United States, under Obamacare, many thousands will continue to die every year due to lack of health insurance.

Number 4:
In Canada, an increasing majority supports their health care system, which costs half as much, per person, as in the United States. And in Canada, everyone is covered.

In the United States, a majority – many for different reasons – oppose Obamacare.

Number 3:
In Canada, the tax payments to fund the health care system are progressive – the lowest 20 percent pays 6 percent of income into the system while the highest 20 percent pays 8 percent.

In the United States, under Obamacare, the poor pay a larger share of their income for health care than the affluent.

Number 2:
In Canada, the administration of the system is simple. You get a health care card when you are born. And you swipe it when you go to a doctor or hospital. End of story.

In the United States, Obamacare’s 2,500 pages plus regulations (the Canadian Medicare Bill was 13 pages) is so complex that then Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said before passage “we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.”

Number 1:
In Canada, the majority of citizens love their health care system.

In the United States, the majority of citizens, physicians, and nurses prefer the Canadian type system – single-payer, free choice of doctor and hospital, everybody in, nobody out.

For more information see Single Payer Action.


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17 thoughts on “21 Ways the Canadian Health Care System is Better than Obamacare by Ralph Nader

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  15. A PS to my first comment. When I applied for immigration to Canada (from the US), I asked one of the embassy staffers what was all this about ‘socialized medicine’. His very succinct reply: Capitalism with a human face.

  16. I have a couple of observations.

    Something that struck me as profoundly odd, when I first settled in Canada back in ’67, in well-heeled (not a deliberate pun…) Ontario, was, what seemed (to me) to be, the disproportionate status of wealthy and powerful local doctors.

    I was quite shocked that medical professionals could wield so much local charisma, enjoying substantial influence and privilege (and income, obviously;) more so in fact than ordained religious figures, even highly qualified academics. Elected politicians, presented as lack-lustre in comparison.

    This puzzled me, and I concluded it had something to do with a combination of superstitious awe of the witch-doctor, and the acquired cultural conviction of a belief in the revered sanctity of intimate knowledge about people’s personal lives; so perhaps, it was all associated with anatomical secrets (and in retrospect, the prevailing hierarchical ascendancy of a psychiatric “gnosis.”)

    Anatomy, psychology and political architecture are it seems, very closely related ~ their common denominators being our notions of human difference, and of mind; but also implicated is an inherent species-ism, that has largely determined the theoretical moralities associated with the sentient organism, both pre- and post-Darwin.

    There is a chronic ongoing debate about the National Health System here in the UK ~ an interminable saga, that seems never to be resolved; probably because it is so deeply inflected by the industrial paradox of post-WW2 political-economies & the tunnel management of the European welfare state; an entity whose historic patronage has ensured global resource depletion, horrendous injustice and a lethal legacy of toxic pollution world-wide.

    So, I think there must be an innate recognition, not necessarily articulated as such, that health is the supreme paradigm and measure of any society’s ethical, cultural and philosophical, pragmatic or scientifically-wrought, political essence. The danger of course, as Illich noted, is that our curative methods and instruments may also become the causative agents of disease.

    Personally, I think it is highly significant & ironic even, that one of the very best health services in the world is in Cuba ~ where tobacco is still a sacred type of cultivation. So maybe the main problem with socialism ~ is that fatal “ism.”

    Perhaps we should recast our just & legitimate concerns, in a more contiguous and essential mold, a witness to conditions of wholesome social necessity, rather than a feebly confessed nostalgia for some socio-philosophical “deviance” long since abandoned ~ only a mere footnote to progress, now barely visible, let alone acceptable. Just a museocratic residue of some futile, archaic, retrograde Eurasian “social experiment.”

    The English biologist Colin Tudge, a prodigiously gifted writer and core originator of the concept of “enlightened agriculture” and as such, principle architect of the Campaign for Real Farming based in the UK, envisages abundant (labour-intensive) agro-ecological cultivation that prioritizes “convivial community” within a “flourishing biosphere.” This is all based on a metaphysical foundation that supports and engenders, science, morality, politics and economics.

    Who can argue with that? Presumably only those who expect to be fed and pampered by the imagination and sweat of others.

  17. Canada’s universal health care had a very tumultuous start. One big difference between Canada and the US: Canadians are not as money-obsessed and still believe in being the brother’s keeper. A much more humane society.

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