Canada's health-care system is far less efficient than those in many other industrialized countries, but still ranks near the top in terms of the quality of care it delivers, a new World Health Organization study has found.
The report ranks Canada 30th in the world because it gets less for its health-care dollar than the public systems in other countries, including France, Oman and Britain.
However, Canada placed seventh for the general health of its population, one of the criteria used to establish the overall rating.
The World Health Report 2000, which surveyed 191 countries,
ranked Canada lower than many other Western countries because Canadians pay more out of their own pockets for medical expenses.
"The fact of the matter is, Canada is one of the largest spenders, and when you then compare what you are getting with the amount of the money that goes in, there is probably room for improvement," said Julio Frenk, one of the authors of the report.
His study found that Canada's system is 88-per-cent efficient, meaning that the system wastes 12 cents of every dollar.
The ranking was based on several criteria. Life expectancy was used to measure the health of the society. The researchers also looked at whether all segments of a society are equally healthy or whether some, like the poor, are sicker.
As well, it calculated the financial burden that individuals must shoulder on their own and evaluated whether the money spent resulted in a healthier population.
Canada fared well on the health of its population, ranking seventh over all. Britain, by comparison, was very close at ninth.
Over all, Canada was ranked behind France, Italy, Spain, Austria, Japan, Norway, Portugal, Greece, Iceland, Britain, Ireland, Sweden, Germany, Israel and Morocco, among others.
The United States was ranked lower than Canada, and was 37th on the list.
But while Canada spends $1,800 per person a year, Britain spends less than $1,200. The study converted currencies into what it calls an international dollar (based on what a unit of currency could buy) so expenditures could be compared.
The study concluded the United States spends the most on health care of any country, at $3,700 per person, but was ranked only 37th over all. But while Canada was ranked seventh in terms of the health of its population, the United States was ranked 15th.
Canada fared worse than other industrialized countries on health-care expenses not covered by medicare.
The study found that of all the G7 countries, Canada had the lowest public expenditure on health care other than the United States. Only 70 per cent of Canada's health-care budget is financed by the federal and provincial governments. Individuals account for 17 per cent of total health-care expenditures in Canada. The rest is covered by private insurance. Britons pay for only 3 per cent.
SELECTED NATIONS' RANK IN HEALTH CARE
The World Health Organization study was based on several criteria. Life expectancy was used to measure the health of the society. The researchers also looked at whether all segments of a society are equally healthy or whether some, like the poor, are sicker.
Rank Member States 1. France 2. Italy 3. San Marino 4. Andorra 5. Malta 6. Singapore 7. Spain 8. Oman 9. Austria 10. Japan 18. Britain 22. Colombia 25. Germany 29. Morocco 30. CANADA 32. Australia 34. Denmark 37. U.S. 39. Cuba 41. New Zealand 45. Kuwait 50. Poland 53. Jamaica 55. Albania