Was Trump right about Canadian health insurance?

According to the Republican candidate, when Canadians need a big operation they go to the USA

Insurance News

By Paul Lucas

It’s fair to say that Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump is something of a divisive character – and his words about Canadians during the second Presidential debate will certainly have raised a few eyebrows.

“The Canadians, when they need a big operation, when something happens, they come into the United States in many cases because their system is so slow,” he said, during the second Presidential debate.

He went on to describe Clinton’s healthcare plan as a “disaster, somewhat similar to Canada”, which he later labelled “catastrophic” and that there are “many cases” of Canadians coming to the US to get operations because the system north of the border is allegedly so slow.

So is he right?

The Washington Post decided to investigate highlighting the obvious facts that Canada has a government-funded national health insurance program and that Canadian residents are guaranteed “reasonable access” to medically necessary hospital and physician services on a prepaid basis under federal law.

It states that Canada does indeed have longer wait times than the United States for people to receive specialized care – with 41% of adults in Canada in 2013 able to access same-day or next day appointments when sick compared to 48% in the United States, according to a Commonwealth Fund report in January, 2016. In regards to specialists 29% of adults in Canada wait two months or longer, compared to just 6% in the USA. Indeed in Canada 18% wait four months or longer for elective surgery – compared to 7% in the USA.

The Trump campaign, it highlights, draws on research from the Fraser Institute, which found in 2014 that more than 52,513 Canadians received non-emergency medical treatment outside Canada – a 25.5% increase over the 2013 estimate. However, the report later acknowledges there is “no readily available data on the number of Canadians traveling abroad for health care.” In fact, the Washington Post outlines that researchers came up with an estimate by using data from the think tank’s annual survey of Canadian physicians in 12 specialties, combined with data on the number of procedures performed in Canada with specialized areas they surveyed including neurosurgery, urology, plastic surgery, gynecology and oncology. 

In conclusion, the Washington Post summarizes that this is a “classic case of Trump focusing on raw numbers with limited information to extrapolate a general trend.”

It states there is “limited reliable information to support Trump’s claim” and points out that, in fact, the most comprehensive report, which uses data from 20 years ago, actually found that just 90 out of 18,000 people surveyed for the Canadian National Population Health Survey said they had received health care in the United States in the previous 12 months.

It’s conclusion is that Trump’s exaggeration of data earns him a rating of “Three Pinocchios”.

So where do you stand on the issue of Canadian healthcare? Do you believe the system here is as flawed as Trump suggests? Or are you happy with the service you receive? Have you ever looked for treatment abroad? Leave a comment below with your thoughts.

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