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8 Myths of the Ontario Health Care System

Posted by Steve Jones

Mon, Aug 19, 2013

Education is the best medicine to debunk myths about Ontario health care and the Canada health care system. Here are 8 myths you may have heard, and the straight talk you may not have heard.

Myth #1: The Canada health care system rations services and resources among seniors.

Straight talk: Seniors have access to health care. What's more, seniors have options. The Ontario health care system offers nine resources on its Ministry of Health and Long-Term CareSeniors' Care website. Two such tools help our loved ones find providers and learn about in-home care services.

The Canada health care system also provides resources to caregivers. One resource is the Service Canada Employment Insurance compassionate care benefits for eligible caregivers.

Myth #2: Canadians cannot choose their own doctors, specialists, or surgeons.

Straight talk: Yes we can! In fact, Health Care Connect, an Ontario health care program, helps Ontarians find a family doctor. More importantly, income is not factor; all Canadians have access to the same doctor pool.

Myth #3: Doctors in Canada are government employees.

Straight talk: Doctors in the Canada health care system are independent business owners who practice medicine.

Myth #4: Wait times are long because of Canada's single-payer system.

Straight talk: Wait times vary depending on the province you live in. In less populated areas like in the northern territories, access to specialists may be limited because fewer people demand fewer specialized services.

Myth #5: Canadian doctors don't earn as much as their US counterparts, resulting in mediocre health care.

Straight talk: Comparing Canadian doctors to US doctors is like comparing apples to oranges. Canadian doctors' salaries may be smaller because their operating costs are less, their educational debt is less, and their malpractice insurance is less. This does not influence how Canadian doctors deliver care to patients.

In fact, Canadian doctors do not have the same social and economic stresses that US doctors and their US staff people do. In the US, health care providers have to deal with multiple insurance companies to make certain, for instance, Patient A is insured despite a prior condition or to confirm whether or not Patient B has a co-pay for a routine exam. This is time and money US providers spend on haggling with companies rather than on providing quality care.

Myth #6: Prescriptions are hard to fill.

Straight talk: The Canadian drug distribution system monitors pharmacists and pharmacies to ensure drugs are dispensed safely and as needed.

Myth #7: The Canada health care system is a socialized system.

Straight talk: Canadian physicians work for themselves not the state. They also work with one insurer which is their provincial government. We call this a single-payer insurance system, modeled after the Saskatchewan Medical Care Insurance Act of 1961.

A more accurate description of the Canada health care system is a publicly-funded, privately-provided, provincially-administered, single-payer, universal, comprehensive health care system.

Myth #8: Canada's health care system is expensive.

Straight talk: According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development Health Data 2013, Canada spent 11% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on health care in 2011. The US spent nearly 18% of its GDP on health care in 2011.

In Canada, we pay taxes to secure adequate, affordable, and accessible health care for all people regardless of social, economic, and health status in Canada. Adequate, affordable, and accessible health care is an expectation in Canada, not an exception.

News medias are saturated with sensationalized stories about health care. The facts are out there if you know where to look. Try provincial sources for Ontario health care like HealthForceOntario Year-End Reports and the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care News Room.