Performance & Quality
Canada ranked 9th of 11 countries for healthcare
July 19, 2017
NEW YORK – Canada placed third from the bottom in a major new study of healthcare in 11 affluent nations, a score that reflects this country’s poor performance on measures such as infant mortality, access to after-hours medical care and the affordability of dental visits and prescription drugs.
Canada’s ninth-place finish is a slight improvement over 2014, when the Commonwealth Fund, a New York-based private research foundation, put Canada in 10th place, ahead of only the United States.
In the group’s new report, released this month, Canada pulled ahead of France, but stayed well behind such standouts as the United Kingdom, Australia and the Netherlands, which ranked first, second and third.
The United States remained in the basement of the rankings.
“The domains that put Canada in ninth place are really access, equity and healthcare outcomes,” said Eric Schneider (pictured), senior vice-president for policy and research at the Commonwealth Fund. “On those domains of quality, [Canada] is fairly similar to the U.S.”
The Commonwealth Fund is one of the few organizations that tries to systematically grade and compare the healthcare systems in high-income countries.
Although crafted for an American audience, the group’s reports are often cited by Canadian politicians and policy makers looking to see how this country stacks up against its peers, especially when it comes to the bang Canada gets for its healthcare bucks.
As the report notes, Canada spent the equivalent of 10 percent of its gross domestic product on healthcare in 2014 – the most recent year for which figures were available – more than higher-ranked United Kingdom, New Zealand, Norway and Australia.
The United States, meantime, doled out the equivalent of 16.6 percent of GDP for the shoddiest results among the 11 countries.
Drawing on its own international surveys and data from groups such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the Commonwealth Fund’s new report grades the 11 countries on 72 metrics grouped into five categories: Care process, access, administrative efficiency, equity and healthcare outcomes.
Canadian patients and healthcare providers might be surprised to see that Canada fared best on care process (sixth place) and administrative efficiency (sixth) and worst on access (10th), equity (ninth) and health outcomes (ninth).