Comparison of U.S. and Canada's Health Care Systems
Both the United States and Canada operate under a system of federal government, whereby separate states, provinces, and territories are autonomous in some matters but subject to a central government in other others. However, while the U.S. health care system is a combination of private and public services, all health insurance in Canada is obtained through the government (Weitz 374). Thus, the Canadian system is referred to as national health insurance, or a single-payer system.
In Canada, the provinces and territories control their health insurance systems, but the federal government is able to oversee each region's system through its financial clout (Weitz 375). The federal government subsidizes the provinces and territories if they provide the four following services to their constituents: (1) everyone in the province is provided with health care without having to pay out-of-pocket costs; (2) benefits are portable from province to province; (3) all medically necessary services are covered; and (4) the program is administered through a public, non-profit agency (Weitz 375).
In the United States, residents generally are provided health care coverage by their employers. Blue Cross covers hospital bills and Blue Shield covers medical bills (Weitz 329). Initially, BCBS' fees were based on community ratings, i.e., each insured's premium was based on the average risk level of his or her community. However, many BCBS companies have adopted actuarial risk ratings to the detriment of persons seeking health insurance. Under BCBS, insureds seek care from hospitals and doctors of their choice and are charged on a fee-for-service basis. BCBS then reimburses from 80 to 100 percent of the charges if they are not classified as preventive care and the insured's deductible has been paid. In addition, both usually establish lifetime and/or annual reimbursement limits (Weitz 329)....