America And Canada: Two Healthcare Systems, Same Crisis

1011 words - 4 pages

While Americans are flooding over the Canadian border in search of cheaper prescriptions, Canadians are passing them at the border on the way to see American doctors. The American and Canadian models of health care systems on the surface are vastly different. So when they do parallel each other, is it for the same reasons? Both countries are looking at a growing shortage of doctors to provide care, patients from both countries are crossing the borders in search of what they can't get in their home countries, and through the turmoil, statistics show that overall patient satisfaction is pretty comparable in both countries. So which system is better?A looming doctor shortage threatens to create a national healthcare crisis by further limiting access to doctors, jeopardizing quality and accelerating increased expenditures. United States Department of Health and Human Services (2005) published a report that warns of a doctor deficit in the US of 85,000 by 2020. Over the next 15 years, aging doctors will retire and aging baby boomers will be more in need of doctor's services.Our neighbors to the north, are not doing any better, according to Smith (2003), their pool of doctors is also shrinking:The plight and flight of Canadian doctors reached its peak in the mid-1990s when the government tightened its healthcare budget and doctor reimbursement declined dramatically. And yet, although the Canadian government has tried to reverse the trend by committing more tax dollars to its healthcare system, doctor emigration still jumped by 68% in 2001...the equivalent of two or three medical school classes are leaving the country each year... last estimate, there were over 8,000 Canadian doctors practicing in the United States.Regardless of the reason, the citizens of both countries are the ones who will ultimately feel the repercussions. Could it be time for our two governments to work together? Nothing too radical, by simply opening up our universities to each other and cutting some of the immigration red tape, we might be able to increase the pool of doctors for both countries.Faced with fewer doctors and longer wait times; Canadian residents are crossing the border into America for treatment. A friend of mine that lives in Canada once told me that the running joke in Canada was: "There is a 12 month wait to get into a maternity ward." Statistics Canada (2005) estimates that more than 1 million Canadians over the age of 15 experienced delays in receiving health-care services in 2005. To visit a specialist or have a non-emergency surgical procedure done, nearly half had to wait between one and three months. For diagnostic test 31% had to wait between one to three months. In addition, more private, cash only clinics are opening across the country.We are fortunate in the US, most of the time we are able to schedule appointments with a specialist pretty quickly. If that specialist writes us a prescription, many Americans are forced to decide between: the expensive...

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