For the second time in less than two weeks, the Canadian public health care system has flunked an international comparison test.
"Canada is doing quite poorly compared to most European nations," said Johan Hjertqvist of the Health Consumer Powerhouse. HCP is a research organization headquartered in Belgium, and it ranks the Canadian health care system 23rd among 32 nations surveyed for quality, access, and innovation.
In particular, wait times to see a doctor and receive treatment drag the Canadian ranking toward the bottom.
"Why should you have to wait three months, or 15 months for treatment when you evidently -- if you look into conditions in Germany or France or the Netherlands -- can have it in a couple of weeks with the same kind of quality?" asked Hjertqvist.
The survey also finds that while Canada is one of the highest per capita spenders on health care, we don't get much for our money. On the so-called "bang for the buck scale," that measured health care results for the number of dollars spent, Canada ranks dead last among the 32 nations.
The analysis was co-sponsored by the Frontier Centre of Public Policy, which says the Canadian system is in some respects held hostage by vested interests, such as public sector unions.
"Some of these groups like to sort of attach themselves to one method of service delivery, and they become religious about it. They become kind of fundamentalists about public health care delivery, as opposed to saying how can we do it like Europe, and have a variety of service providers."
European health reform in the past 20 years has led to a multi-layered system in most countries, combining a mix of private and public care, but all paid for by government.
The HCP findings are identical in many respects to a survey released earlier this month by the Canadian Medical Association.