Health Care Systems in the United States and Canada

Paper Info
Page count 9
Word count 2571
Read time 9 min
Topic Health
Type Research Paper
Language 🇺🇸 US


Most people believe that the Canadian Healthcare system resembles that of the United States, even though they are very different in reality. The U.S. is a multi-payer and mostly private plan, while the Canadian is single-payer with essentially public service. The norms of the two approaches appear similar, which is why the U.S. may emulate the Canadian procedure with time. Both countries also have strategies that are put in place to improve their health systems, increase life expectancy, and reduce mortality rates. The Canadian healthcare system is far much better than that of the U.S., even though it uses less GDP on health care. The country has all its citizens covered, while some middle-aged Americans are not covered. This paper will compare healthcare systems between the two countries on various health outcomes such as life expectancy, maternal and mortality rate, obesity, cardiovascular disease, childhood diseases, and adult population.

Coverage and Access

In terms of coverage and accessibility, Canada has all its citizens protected. The U.S. has around 7% of its population that do not have access to proper medical care (Gubler et al., 2020). Both countries may have slight problems accessing experienced medical officers, but the few in Canada have access to clinics and emergency services. In the U.S., such people have even not have enough insurance to cater to the medical services, leaving them to pay more expenses (Gubler et al., 2020). Moreover, the public-sponsored healthcare programs provide medical services to the disabled, elderly, poor, and children because the federal government does not offer universal health care services. In both countries, though, immigrants receive the worst health services. For instance, in Canada, they are given less time to access some medical tests, while in the U.S., they have fewer yearly consultations and no regular medical doctor to cater to them. On the contrary, Canadian settlers receive better care compared to those in the U.S.

Interval Times

The waiting period while waiting to receive medical attention is a problem in both countries, and the factors that determine this occurrence are different. For instance, in the U.S., wait times for significant needs like radiation for breast cancer and primary elective operations take place depending on whether the patient will pay for the services or not. Availability of these amenities in the area or whether the specialist will accept to offer the care at the insurer’s cost also affects the interval time. Such notable incidents depend on whether the service is available in that area or the patient’s level of need in Canada. From a Commonwealth survey, Canadians can wait for two hours in the emergency room while in the U.S., they can stay up to four weeks to see a doctor. However, Americans receive quality health care compared to Canadians because they spend 55% of what they pay for insurance coverage, unlike in Canada, where the amount is much less (Weil, 2016). It also explains why Americans have a higher life expectancy and lower mortality rate compared to Canada.

Government Involvement

Governments in both countries fully support the health sector, but the difference comes from the insurance sector. In Canada, the Federal government funds the provincial administration for care expenses as long as the region involved ensures accessibility to the patients and abides by what is stated in the Canadian Health Act. This policy prohibits patients from paying for any procedures that Medicare covers. Private or provincial health authorities run the hospitals instead of leaving them as part of the state administration. In the U.S., government support for healthcare is minimal and direct to specific organizations. The children’s state’s health insurance program covers entitled high-ranking citizens, the poor, incapacitated people, and children. The federal government also runs the army administrations and provides insurance for them and their families. For others, health coverage is purchased in the private market places where private insurance can be bought from non-profit insurers.

In Canada, other than the provision of cover, the central government has special roles like ensuring food and drug safety. The administration guarantees proper technology application where possible and maintains the national principles for standard health insurance. The state also provides an appropriate response to any emergency and proper preparation for any chronic disease by placing suitable prevention and control measures. It also ensures health promotion by supporting some health services for First Nations and Inuit (Labudova & Benacka, 2019). In America, though, most health care facilities are privately owned, but the government warrants medical services in remote areas through telemedicine. The U.S. government has also registered almost 355 free health clinics for those unable to pay for health coverage (Labudova & Benacka, 2019). The services offered in these clinics are limited to acute care for respiratory diseases and dental benefits and any other required services paid for by the federal government.

Type of Care Covered by Health Insurances

In the U.S., private companies’ coverage differs depending on the type of policies that the consumers and the insurer agreed upon or what one can afford. The introduction of the Patient Protection and Affordable Act in 2010 ensures that citizens get the required coverage at a minimum price, whether by private or employer insurance (Labudova & Benacka, 2019). The policy demands that citizens should get covered for essential health benefits. These include services such as an emergency, ambulance, newborn and maternity, laboratory, rehabilitation, and childcare. Similarly, in Canada, the health care system that provides insurance for citizens limits it to hospitals, medical specialists, and dental operations; and these are done in hospitals. For any health care service not in this bracket, the provinces are given a chance to provide additional coverage for prescriptions, mental health care, home care, or dental care services. The citizens mostly find themselves paying for these services either with cash or through private coverage. In both countries, the populations are yet to understand what they are covered for since they ultimately have access to a different type of health care other than the intended.

Insurance for Mental Health

Canada Health insures psychiatrists’ services but does not cover psychologists or psychotherapists unless the specialist is a medical doctor. It depends on the region in that the physiotherapist’s services are taxed. Some regions have private covers for such services, but the government has no basic law which regulates them. However, the state has highly qualified experts to ensure the improvement of medical services. Similarly, in the U.S., the Affordable Act contains the prevention, early response, and treatment for all mental diseases or disorders brought by substance abuse. The health plans for these conditions are offered through the Health Insurance Marketplace, which covers some preventive services without double payment. Federal law ensures services offered for such impairments are easily accessible, whether it is normal medical care or surgical procedures.

Health Care Outcomes

Patient care results are a major problem that the two countries are trying to curb by improving their health systems. WHO ranked Canada with a higher health care performance than the U.S. Though the United States’ life expectancy is higher by almost half a year, Canada has lesser hypertension, cardiovascular disorders, and obesity (Labudova & Benacka, 2019). It is because of the difference in lifestyle between the two countries; for instance, the number of alcoholics and smokers is more in the U.S. than in Canada. The difference in racial composition also contributes to the lower life expectancy and higher mortality rates, even though healthcare services are almost the same across the board. Moreover, African-Americans have higher mortality rates, and higher chances of obesity, diabetes, and cancer than other racial groups (Price, 2018). Contrary though, there are only a few black people in Canada, and to their advantage, the above cases are fewer.

According to quality indicator research Canada performed well on 11 indicators, including survivors of colorectal cancer, kidney and liver transplant, and childhood leukemia. The Us performed on six indicators with cervical and breast cancer, childhood diseases like measles, and pertussis (Price, 2018). The research also emphasizes health equity where the poor, sick, and incapacitated should be given proper medical care to reduce the spread of these chronic diseases. It is not easy to compare the infant death rate in these two countries because they have different understanding and their definition of mortality is also diverse. Cancer survival cases in both countries have enhanced with time because treatment is also improving. It is challenging to have statistics because screening is done contrarily and collected in dissimilar ways. For instance, regional cancer administrations provide data to the Canadian survey bodies to make sure cancer patients are tracked and are given proper medical care to improve their chances of survival.

Cancer cases in both countries are almost the same, but the difference is that the type of illness in one country is not the same as in the other one. For example, Canada has more colorectal cancer survivors than its counterpart, while the U.S. has more breast and cervix, cancer survivors. However, this ailment is prevalent among black people because of their poor and careless living standards. The higher rate of survivors in the U.S. can be attributed to their higher social class than in Canada, where their lifestyle standard is a bit lower. The huge difference between prostate cancer patients is that United States’ robust health system can detect the signs at an early stage, and the earlier treatment offered saves the patient. Both countries have informed their citizens of each type of cancer’s signs and symptoms; thus, discovering it in its initial stages may be easy hence control it.

Price of Health and Authorities

The American government uses more resources on health than Canada, and administrative costs in U.S. are more expensive than in Canada. Most people in America are privately covered, while in Canada, they are sponsored by the government, meaning that most health care capital in America is personally spent. A more significant percentage of the funds set aside for health goes to the nurses and physicians. A medical professional in the U.S. earns twice as much as the one in Canada. Despite the little they earn, doctors in Canada pay their rent, staff salaries, equipment, and tax using the same amount of money. That is why only 50% of doctors in Canada are specialists, while in America, they are more than 70 percent (Price, 2018). Furthermore, this same expert travels to the U.S. for post-graduate learning because of the advanced and properly equipped learning programs. Additionally, some non-governmental organizations provide free accreditation services to hospitals, community organizations, and health authorities.

Both countries have specific programs to supply prescribed medicine to the needy. In the U.S., the establishment of Medicare Part D offered partial support for Medicare beneficiaries and Pharmaceuticals. In Canada, hospitals’ healthcare services fall under Medicare, but other prescriptions do not. Further, regions have initiatives to help the poor, while the seniors have access to medication. Most Canadians have self-sponsored medical insurance, mainly via their employers. In both countries, though, a substantial number of people have no full drug prescription insurance. In technology applications, America is more advanced than Canada, and its efficiency is also higher. Americans began using C.T. and MRI scanners before Canadians, who took time before acquiring the expertise (Essen, 2020). Lawsuit malpractice is common in America; for instance, the country uses up to 9% of its health care share (Essen, 2020). A Canadian institute developed a survey that has been implemented in regions to address protracted diseases since the government had no customary acute care for such diseases.

Care Delivery Systems

In Canada, physician services are offered in urban areas since the government has no program that guarantees the supply of doctors in rural areas. For primary services, the general consultants act as gatekeepers, and most provinces pay low salaries since they have no referred consultations. Most specialists are self-employed in either single or group practice. Some of them have opted to form partnerships to enable sharing of resources. These groups differ across the provinces depending on the composition and size of the team. Patients can choose general practitioners, but they may not access a physician if they have fully been booked. This is because there is no legislation that has been implemented to ensure the patients have free access to these specialists.

In America, they have a different structure; for instance, there is an integrated delivery system where a single organization gives a significant range of tertiary and ambulance services. Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) has four basic plans: the single practice association, group model, and staff model. These are aimed at providing medical services in a specific geographical area. Any supplementary or agreed services should also be delivered and also enroll any voluntary services from citizens. Other programs also allow individuals to choose how to receive services from the nonparticipating or participating service providers. Some organizations also allow the patient to select whether to receive paid or free services, though the quality of these provisions differs.

Major Problems Faced by the two Countries’ Health Care Systems

The two countries face the same kind of problems, some of which is cybersecurity. These are severe threats since security is needed mainly to keep patients’ records confidential; thus, both nations’ electronic systems are facing drastic changes. In this scenario, they have realized that health care is not just about treating patients. After the coronavirus pandemic, both states have learned how important it is to safeguard the clients’ confidentiality to protect them from outside threats because the new epidemic face-to-face consultation has changed. A perfect case is where hospitals assign patients to various pay points, for example, in banks, to manage a large amount of money since people have assumed the responsibility for settling high medical bills. They give patients paperless statements like credit cards to make their payment easy. However, funds to create and maintain these patient portals become a problem too. Getting trusted personnel for patients, personal information becomes a challenge.

Consequently, there is a shortage of doctors in Canada since most professionals tend to avoid a poor-paying jobs. Fewer physicians cause congestion in hospitals, which leads to the ineffective rendering of services since one doctor has many patients to attend to. The percentage of the aging population is large, so the care and attention required are much higher, raising service costs. Though the government covers part of the medical services, most individuals do not afford the remaining portion, and thus, half of the service is less active. This has also increased the wait time from one patient to the next. For instance, an appointment to see a doctor, especially for major elective surgeries, could take even weeks. It is a problem Canadians are trying to solve even though it is fully sorted in some areas.


In conclusion, there is a significant difference between these two healthcare systems. Canada provides coverage for all its citizens through limited services, while in the U.S., insurance is private. The United States allocates a substantial amount of its income for medical assistance while Canada only provides a small sum. Both countries are trying to fight cancer, but the difference is that the most affected people are of a mixed ratio. The disparity in social classes also determines the prevalence of the diseases in a certain area. Deprived lifestyles in both countries are major causes of some sicknesses such as hypertension and obesity. Most importantly is that both republics have strategies that ensure improved health care services.


Essen, B. (2020). 11. Professionalism & practice: Safeguarding of best practices of genital examinations and equality before the law. Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada, 42(2), e20-e21. Web.

Gubler, T., Liu, H., & Roman, A. (2020). Making them pay? Patient ability to pay and care disparities in emergency medical services. SSRN Electronic Journal. Web.

Labudova, M., & Benacka, J. (2019). Sexual disorders by hypertonic patients like a predictors of cardiovascular disease prognosis. Journal of Hypertension, 37. Web.

Price, M. (2018). Some scientists publish more than 70 papers a year. Here’s how—and why—they do it. Science. Web.

Weil, T. (2016). What can the Canadians and Americans learn from each other’s health care systems? The International Journal of Health Planning and Management, 31(3), 349-370. Web.

Cite this paper


NerdyBro. (2022, September 21). Health Care Systems in the United States and Canada. Retrieved from


NerdyBro. (2022, September 21). Health Care Systems in the United States and Canada.

Work Cited

"Health Care Systems in the United States and Canada." NerdyBro, 21 Sept. 2022,


NerdyBro. (2022) 'Health Care Systems in the United States and Canada'. 21 September.


NerdyBro. 2022. "Health Care Systems in the United States and Canada." September 21, 2022.

1. NerdyBro. "Health Care Systems in the United States and Canada." September 21, 2022.


NerdyBro. "Health Care Systems in the United States and Canada." September 21, 2022.