Reducing Wait Times for Health Care: What Canada Can Learn from Theory and International Experience

Fraser Institute, October 2013

168 Pages Posted: 9 Oct 2013

See all articles by Steven Globerman

Steven Globerman

Western Washington University - Center for International Business

Nadeem Esmail

Fraser Institute

Brian Day

University of British Columbia (UBC)

David Henderson

Naval Postgraduate School

Date Written: October 8, 2013

Abstract

Public opinion polls in recent years show that Canadians are generally satisfied with their government-funded health care system. If there is any consistent source of dissatisfaction with the “single-payer” system, it is with the amount of time people wait to receive medical care. Requiring patients to queue for medical services presumably saves the government money, at least in the short-run, by reducing expenditures on hospitals and doctors. However, waiting lists impose monetary and non-monetary costs on those waiting for health care. The larger these costs, the more likely it is that waiting lists have net overall costs for Canadian society. What can and should be done to reduce or eliminate wait times for health care?

Reducing Wait Times for Health Care: What Canada Can Learn from Theory and International Experience assesses various policy-related issues associated with waiting lists for health care services in Canada. First, Nadeem Esmail attempts to define what “waiting” for health care means and considers the complexities involved in comparing wait times from one country to another. In chapter 3, Dr. Brian Day examines the substantial costs that waiting for health care impose on Canadians. David Henderson then considers various policy approaches for reducing wait times in Canada, while in chapter 5, Steven Globerman addresses the labour market consequences of wait times and the broader impacts of wait times for Canada’s economic growth. Finally, in chapter 6 of this volume, Nadeem Esmail reviews the international experience with wait times and reductions in wait times in an effort to identify policies that might work to improve the timeliness of access to health care in Canada.

A key point for Canadian policymakers emerges from the chapters in this book: maintaining status quo health care policies is unlikely to improve the timeliness of the provision of health care services in Canada or improve the efficiency of the government-funded system.

Keywords: Health

Suggested Citation

Globerman, Steven and Esmail, Nadeem and Day, Brian and Henderson, David, Reducing Wait Times for Health Care: What Canada Can Learn from Theory and International Experience (October 8, 2013). Fraser Institute, October 2013. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2337594

Steven Globerman (Contact Author)

Western Washington University - Center for International Business ( email )

Parks Hall 342
Bellingham, WA 98225-9170
United States
360-650-7288 (Phone)
360-650-4844 (Fax)

Nadeem Esmail

Fraser Institute ( email )

1770 Burrard Street
4th Floor
Vancouver, British Columbia V6J 3G7
Canada

Brian Day

University of British Columbia (UBC)

2329 West Mall
Vancouver, British Columbia BC V6T 1Z4
Canada

David Henderson

Naval Postgraduate School ( email )

555 Dyer Road
Monterey, CA 93943
United States

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