Canadians are less confident in their health-care system than Americans are, according to a new study by the Angus Reid Institute.
Published on Sept. 7, the study found that only 37 percent of Canadians were confident they could access urgent care in a timely fashion, compared to 70 percent of Americans, should an emergency happen to them.
The data was obtained from two online surveys conducted in August—one with a randomized sample of 2,279 Canadians who are members of the Angus Reid Forum, and the other with 1,209 Americans who are members of Angus Reid Forum USA.
The study found that Canadians were having “considerably more difficulty” accessing health care in their country over the last six months.
“Canada’s health-care system has been under intense scrutiny in recent months, as the country looks past COVID-19 to find long waits—or complete closures—at emergency rooms, shortages of health-care workers, a lack of family doctors, and backlogs for surgeries,” the study said.
Access to Key Services
Two out of five Canadians (41 percent) said they either had difficulty accessing or were totally unable to access one of five key health services: non-emergency care, emergency care, surgery, diagnostic, and specialist appointments.
Specialist appointments and surgical procedures caused the most stress to Canadians as more than half of those who required the care reported a difficult time accessing it. Around five percent said it was “impossible.”
Those who needed non-emergency treatment and diagnostic tests were easier to access, according to the study. However, many still struggled, with at least 41 percent who needed tests or 44 percent who needed non-emergency treatment saying it was difficult or impossible to access those types of care.
The study also noted that younger people faced a “much harder time” in getting an appointment with a specialist or receiving a diagnostic test. At least 70 percent of Canadians who reported difficulty in accessing a specialist belonged to the 18-34 age bracket.
When it comes to their loved ones, nearly three-quarters of Canadians (72 percent) said they knew at least one close friend or family member who received inadequate medical care in the last six months.
Nearly 60 percent said their loved ones experienced long wait times to get an appointment. Another 36 percent surveyed said they knew someone in their circle who faced long wait times for emergency care. Misdiagnosis (26 percent), the inability to schedule diagnostic tests (30 percent) and surgery (23 percent) are among other issues reported.
Half of Canadians (51 percent) said inadequate health care has caused someone close to them to suffer consequences, while one-in-five (18 percent) said at least one of their loved ones suffered serious consequences due to poor access to health care.
“Canadians are nearly three times as likely as Americans to report a loved one was unable to get a diagnostic test (30% Canadian; 12% American),” the study said.
“Canadians are four times as likely (23% vs. 6%) to say they know someone who could not get surgery.”