Comparative Analysis of Canadian and American Healthcare Systems

Junior (College 3rd year) ・Healthcare&Medicine ・APA ・3 Sources

Different countries have developed unique healthcare systems in pursuit of the well-being of their residents. The U.S. portrays a vast healthcare industry that majors on creating insurance programs. Insurance covers are essential in that they enable people to access quality care regardless of their income. While the U.S. focuses on Obamacare, Canada relies on its universal health care system which insures people at birth. The high focus on health insurance emanates from the high cost of healthcare being experienced in the modern society. As more people access health coverage, their well-being is enhanced, hence increasing their productivity. The U.S. healthcare system is portrayed by high costs, with many people remaining uninsured. Thus, the government ought to make efforts to streamline issues accordingly. The bottom line is that both countries have some challenges despite being industrialized. The costs of inpatient and outpatient seem to vary based on the healthcare services involved. As such, it is crucial to explore the contrasts and similarities portrayed by both systems.

Comparison Between American and Canadian Healthcare Systems

The healthcare sector remains to be a crucial field in every country. Numerous countries have made endless efforts to provide their citizens with adequate medical systems and facilities. The U.S. stands out among nations that have improved healthcare systems. Also, Canada showcases a stable healthcare system that is capable of addressing its people’s medical needs. Precisely, adequate efforts have been made to provide people with an appropriate insurance system for affordability purposes. Also, each healthcare system portrays unique aspects that are influenced by relevant policies and operational procedures.

Type of Healthcare System

The U.S. showcases a unique healthcare system among other developed nations. The country lacks both uniform and universal healthcare systems. However, the government enacted Obamacare to create affordable coverage for all people in 2010. Rather than embracing one insurance system, the U.S. utilizes various systems. For example, the government pays for healthcare through Medicaid, while at the same time offering government subsidies through Medicare. The reason for this aspect is that there are many stakeholders and processes involved (Squires & Anderson, 2015). The affordable care act which is being debated upon was established in 2010 to provide medical coverage to many uninsured Americans. Health insurance is thus derived from sources such as private insurance, social insurance, and the social welfare program. This concept has helped eliminate unnecessary medical costs, as well as high rates of uninsured people. On the other hand, Canada operates under the Medicare concept which is a publicly financed health system. Just like in the U.S., Canada does not work on a single national plan (Zhong et al., 2014). Canadian citizens have access to healthcare services without paying from their pockets. The Canada Health Act mandates universal coverage for all insured people’s medical needs. In this case, the government cares for the well-being of all people, hence keeping the government actively involved in healthcare operations. Every Canadian enjoys quality care since both territorial and provincial insurance programs cover people at birth (Kantarjian, 2017). Thus, both the countries’ insurance systems showcase different health insurance systems tailored to improve access to medical services.

System Financing

Healthcare financing in the U.S. is done by numerous entities. Medicaid and Medicare programs are funded by the government. Private health insurance programs are funded by employers, thereby enabling their employees to access medical services with ease. These financing options have helped in creating an environment where many Americans can acquire insurance. The government’s involvement has also influenced insurance companies to offer affordable coverage to insure a higher population (Kantarjian, 2017). Despite the government’s commitment, American healthcare has huge costs compared to other counties. For example, $ 3 trillion was spent in 2014, and the figures are still increasing. Canadian health insurance programs are financed by both the territorial and provincial governments. These entities have the responsibility of organizing and ascertaining that medical services are offered accordingly. Financing is done through taxes that are derived from both corporate and income taxation. Other funds are extracted from lottery proceeds and sales tax. At the federal level, the Canadian Health and Social Transfer (CHST) distributes funds to all territories and provinces. Canada’s healthcare expenditure amounts to 9.5 % of its gross domestic product compared to 14 % incurred in the U.S. In this case, both nation’s health insurance systems incorporate both government and corporate financing.

Scope of Services and Funding Priorities

Due to the numerous systems involved in the U.S. differentiated healthcare services are offered to citizens. For example, Medicare targets disabled young people, those above 65 years old, and renal failure patients. Medicaid takes a different approach by offering extensive services. For example, it provides outpatient and inpatient care, home health, nursing facility, and physician services. Obamacare touches on significant health services that many ordinary people are likely to miss without coverage (Zhong et al., 2014). These services entail ambulatory services, prescription drugs, emergency care, hospitalization, laboratory tests, and rehabilitative services. In this case, Obamacare offers extensive services that are of great significance to the citizen’s well-being. Funding priority is given to Medicaid since it covers many people characterized by very meager incomes. This aspect helps increase coverage, especially in instances where many people cannot afford medical care or insurance premiums (Squires & Anderson, 2015). The Canadian Medicare program covers all services except dental care, eyeglasses, and prescription drugs. As a result, people have to pay for such services from their pockets or through private insurance. Other services that are not covered entail home care and long-term care, thereby requiring patients to seek the above-mentioned alternatives. The Canadian government prioritizes funding its universal healthcare system. Through this system, both citizens and permanent residents do not pay for various care services.

Amount Paid for Outpatient and Inpatient Care

Healthcare operations in the U.S. portray varying costs for outpatient and inpatient in different instances. In regards to inpatient care, an average hospital stay ranges at around $ 10,000. This amount is expected to vary depending on the patient’s age, as well as the facility. A visit to a physician can attract costs amounting to an average of $ 200. However, frequent visits, especially in cases of complex medication attracts higher amounts (Zhong et al., 2014). Precisely, the government spends more on outpatient than in inpatient. A perfect example of such a case is in 2006 $ 850 billion was incurred in outpatient, hence amounting to 41 % of the total healthcare expenditure. In Canada, the situation is different since outpatient services are less costly compared to inpatient due to the services involved. To be precise, a single inpatient costs around $ 7,000, and it can increase to over $ 11,000 if circulatory complications are involved. Outpatient is easily affordable since only a few services are involved. A routine visit to a doctor can amount to $ 183 while a day’s procedure costs around $ 650 (Kantarjian, 2017). Thus, Canadian healthcare is cheaper, and its outpatient services are affordable compared to the U.S.

Primary Healthcare Providers and their Roles

Physicians act as primary healthcare providers whose focus is to offer exemplary services to their patients. The best aspect of physicians is that they are capable of addressing numerous health complications. Physician’s roles entail promoting, restoring, and maintaining health. These tasks are accomplished through procedures such as diagnosis and treatment. Similarly, Canada relies on physicians as its leading healthcare providers. Canadian physicians provide both the initial contacts for ill individuals and continued care services. Thus, they help patients understand their medical complications, hence exposing them to the appropriate therapeutic interventions (Squires & Anderson, 2015). In this case, both countries rely on physicians due to their extensive knowledge and prowess in pharmaceutical operations.

Comparative Strengths and Weaknesses

Both the Canadian and American health industries have numerous strengths and weaknesses. One evident advantage in the U.S. is the strong private sector, which facilitates access to diverse services. Another strength is the government’s intensive support that has seen many low-income people accessing healthcare. The U.S. also relies on state of the art equipment that allows physicians to handle complex issues with ease. Canada also showcases modern technologies that facilitate proper care. Unlike the U.S., Canada enjoys affordable care that can be easily accessed by the citizens (Zhong et al., 2014). To be precise, all Canadians are insured, compared to many Americans who have been unable to acquire health coverage. Thus, the universal health care practiced in Canada enhances the well-being of its citizens more than the American Affordable Care Act (ACA). One weakness of the Canadian system is that entails lengthy wait times that end up endangering the patients’ lives. In addition to high prices, the U.S. healthcare system lacks systemic changes, thereby failing to accommodate new policies and improvements (Kantarjian, 2017). It is evident that both health systems have various strengths, as well as weaknesses. In this case, proper interventions are needed to create sound health systems that address the peoples’ health needs appropriately.


The healthcare sector plays a pivotal role in sustaining a population’s well-being. Canada and the U.S. are some of the industrialized nations that have improved healthcare systems. While the U.S. operates under the ACA, which encourages insurance coverage of all citizens. On the other hand, Canada has the universal health care system that covers all the residents from birth. Government financing is actively employed in both setups, thereby increasing medical coverage. Other sources of funds are taxes derived from employers. While the American system is characterized by high costs, Canada showcases long waiting periods that affect patients. By eliminating all the setbacks, both countries can quickly improve their health operations.


Kantarjian, H. M. (2017). The Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, 3 years later: A reality check. Cancer, 123(1), 25-28.
Squires, D., & Anderson, C. (2015). US health care from a global perspective: spending, use of services, prices, and health in 13 countries. The Commonwealth Fund, 15, 1-16.
Zhong, T., Fernandes, K. A., Saskin, R., Sutradhar, R., Platt, J., Beber, B. A., & Baxter, N. N. (2014). Barriers to immediate breast reconstruction in the Canadian universal health care system. Journal of Clinical Oncology, 32(20), 2133-2141.

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