What's Up North?

Physician's Money Digest, January31 2005, Volume 12, Issue 2

The Canadian health care system isoften trotted out as a model for what agovernment-sponsored payment programshould look like. Americans, fed onmedia stories about cheap Canadiandrugs, generally have positive opinionsabout the state of health care north of theborder. Statistically, these viewpoints maybe somewhat justified. Canadians have alonger life expectancy and a lower rate ofinfant mortality. But our northern neighborsoften must wait months and evenyears for medical care that would be routinehere in the States. One of the problemswith the Canadian system is a shortageof physicians. With 2.1 doctors forevery 1000 residents, Canada ranks 25thof 30 countries tracked by the Organizationfor Economic Co-Operationand Development (www.oecd.org). Compensationis one reason for the shortfall;Canadian physicians have an averageincome of about $96,000, compared withan average of more than $160,000 in theUnited States.