Study: Socialized Canadian surgery half the U.S. cost with same results

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Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Americans pay twice as much for heart-bypass surgery as the socialized Canadian system, with no difference in outcome, according to today's issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine in a study funded by American drug company, Pfizer Inc.. The research found that heart bypass surgery costs an average of $10,373 in Canada, compared with $20,673 in the United States. Even though the costs were double in the United States, the rate of complications and death following bypass surgery was similar.

High administrative costs and overtreatment are usually blamed for the higher cost in the profit-driven U.S. system. Americans spent $5,635 per capita on health care in 2003, while only $3,003 was spent by Canadians. Health spending accounts for almost 15 per cent of gross domestic product in the U.S. and just under 10 per cent in Canada; while at the same time, all Canadian residents are full covered. In addition, the average Canadian lives 2 years longer than the average American.

This is one of the first studies directly comparing the costs of surgery in Canada and the United States and it reinforces the view of Dr. Mark Eisenberg, head of cardiovascular epidemiology at Jewish General Hospital in Montreal; "The conventional wisdom is that health care is much more expensive in the U.S. and the conventional wisdom is right." by finding that Canada's socialized system is far more cost efficient than the U.S. model.

The cost of medications used to treat bypass patients were as much as 68 percent greater in the U.S. than in Canada and the cost of a surgical bed was 36 percent greater in the U.S.. In Canada, nursing accounted for 44 percent of the treatment costs, compared with 21 percent in the U.S. and patients stayed longer in hospital following surgery in Canada.

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