Media Release – 23rd out of 32 countries

Press Release, Healthcare & Welfare, Frontier Centre

The Frontier Centre for Public Policy, along with its European partner, the Health Consumer Powerhouse today released their annual comparison of health care in Europe and Canada. The Euro-Canada Health Consumer Index 2009 was compiled and authored by Dr. Arne Björnberg and Daniel Eriksson; it measures how friendly a nation’s health care system is for those who must consume it, i.e., the patients.

The Index measures patient rights and information, waiting times for treatment, outcomes, the range and reach of services provided, and access to pharmaceuticals.

Measured out of 1,000 points in total, the second annual Euro-Canada Health Consumer Index scored countries in the following manner:

  • The Netherlands was in the top spot with 824 points;
  • Austria was second with 813 points;
  • Luxembourg and Denmark took third and fourth place with 795 and 794 points respectively;
  • Germany was fifth with 769 points;
  • Canada placed 23rd (out of 32 countries) with a score of just 549 points.

For Canada, the Index found the following:

  • For medical outcomes, Canada compares reasonably well with the best performing healthcare systems;
  • On the generosity scale Canada collects an average score;
  • With respect to patient’s rights, waiting times, and availability of pharmaceuticals, Canada places at the absolute bottom in the rankings.
  • Canada ranks dead last in the “Bang-for-the-Buck” index (Estonia is first in the value-for-money-adjusted “Bang-for-the-Buck” index).

The study’s lead author, Dr. Arne Björnberg, noted “Canadians suffer from a healthcare system officially based on equal access – but in reality is a sub-standard one that denies Canadian health care consumers many of the services taken for granted in Europe.”

Dr. Björnberg pointed out that “Patients rights, access to information, and choice and services without delay are underdeveloped in Canada and deliver low value for the money spent.”

On the positive side, he noted the quality of treatment – when delivered – puts Canada on par with most European countries. However, “Canada’s major weak spot in the Index is still waiting times for treatment; Canada scores the lowest possible score in this category,” said Dr. Björnberg.

Frontier Centre policy analyst Ben Eisen, spokesman for the health care report, noted that Canada’s overall poor score was even less impressive given that some countries which formerly belonged to the Eastern Bloc now score higher than Canada (with its 549 points): Former Eastern Bloc countries that trumped Canada include Slovakia has 563 points, Slovenia with 582 points, the Czech Republic at 669 points and Estonia with 674 points.

“Canada has long been a developed country,” said Eisen. “But our health care system only managed to beat a few poor European nations including Macedonia, Latvia, Croatia, Bulgaria, Poland, Lithuania, and Romania—all of which would be expected to have worse health care given how much they needed to develop after their 1990s-era transition from their underdeveloped economic status.”

The policy series, Euro-Canada Health Consumer Index 2009, can be found here.

For additional comments and/or background on the study, contact:

Ben Eisen
Policy Analyst, Frontier Centre for Public Policy

External expert reference panel

As is the standard working mode for all Health Consumer Powerhouse indexes, an external expert reference panel was recruited to advise on the Index work. They are as follows: