Editorial: Americans less healthy than Canadians

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 7, 2006

Here’s a statistic that has made news across North America in the past month:

Americans are 42 percent more likely than Canadians to have diabetes and 32 percent more likely to have high blood pressure.

That’s disturbing. Want to know what’s more disturbing? Read this:

America pays almost twice what Canada does per person for health care. Yet Americans gave higher marks to their health system than did Canadians to theirs.

The numbers are from a new study by researchers at Harvard Medical School. The findings come out in the July issue of the American Journal of Public Health. The study neglected anyone younger than 18.

The study also found that Americans are 12 percent more likely to have arthritis. They are slightly more likely to suffer from heart disease and depression. Americans are far ahead of Canadians when it comes to obesity &045; 40 percent ahead.

Canadians are heavier smokers than Americans.

Americans, however, have less access to doctors. They are one-third less likely to have a regular doctor and one-fourth less likely to have unmet health needs.

Why?

A lot of it is a clear result of Canada’s universal coverage for health insurance. The math is simple: The more you see doctors, the better your knowledge of your health will be and the more you can act on it. Or for that matter, the sooner doctors can act. Canadians, therefore, receive more disease-preventing health services.

The study found that rates were the nearly the same among insured Americans and Canadians. It was the uninsured Americans who brought down the U.S. figures.

One plus one equals two.

And universal health coverage equals healthier Americans.