21 Ways the Canadian Health Care System is Better than Obamacare

By Ralph Nader

Dear America:

Costly complexity is baked into Obamacare. No health insurance system is without problems but Canadian style single-payer full Medicare for all is simple, affordable, comprehensive and universal.

In the early 1960s, President Lyndon Johnson enrolled 20 million elderly Americans into Medicare in six months. There were no websites. They did it with index cards!

Below please find 21 Ways the Canadian Health Care System is Better than Obamacare.

Repeal Obamacare and replace it with the much more efficient single-payer, everybody in, nobody out, free choice of doctor and hospital.

Love, Canada

Number 21:
In Canada, everyone is covered automatically at birth – everybody in, nobody out.

In the United States, under Obamacare, 31 million Americans will still be uninsured by 2023 and millions more will remain underinsured.

Number 20:
In Canada, the health system is designed to put people, not profits, first.

In the United States, Obamacare will do little to curb insurance industry profits and will actually enhance insurance industry profits.

Number 19:
In Canada, coverage is not tied to a job or dependent on your income – rich and poor are in the same system, the best guaranty of quality.

In the United States, under Obamacare, much still depends on your job or income. Lose your job or lose your income, and you might lose your existing health insurance or have to settle for lesser coverage.

Number 18:
In Canada, health care coverage stays with you for your entire life.

In the United States, under Obamacare, for tens of millions of Americans, health care coverage stays with you for as long as you can afford your share.

Number 17:
In Canada, you can freely choose your doctors and hospitals and keep them. There are no lists of “in-network” vendors and no extra hidden charges for going “out of network.”

In the United States, under Obamacare, the in-network list of places where you can get treated is shrinking – thus restricting freedom of choice – and if you want to go out of network, you pay for it.

Number 16:
In Canada, the health care system is funded by income, sales and corporate taxes that, combined, are much lower than what Americans pay in premiums.

In the United States, under Obamacare, for thousands of Americans, it’s pay or die – if you can’t pay, you die. That’s why many thousands will still die every year under Obamacare from lack of health insurance to get diagnosed and treated in time.

Number 15:
In Canada, there are no complex hospital or doctor bills. In fact, usually you don’t even see a bill.

In the United States, under Obamacare, hospital and doctor bills will still be terribly complex, making it impossible to discover the many costly overcharges.

Number 14:
In Canada, costs are controlled. Canada pays 10 percent of its GDP for its health care system, covering everyone.

In the United States, under Obamacare, costs continue to skyrocket. The U.S. currently pays 18 percent of its GDP and still doesn’t cover tens of millions of people.

Number 13:
In Canada, it is unheard of for anyone to go bankrupt due to health care costs.

In the United States, under Obamacare, health care driven bankruptcy will continue to plague Americans.

Number 12:
In Canada, simplicity leads to major savings in administrative costs and overhead.

In the United States, under Obamacare, complexity will lead to ratcheting up administrative costs and overhead.

Number 11:
In Canada, when you go to a doctor or hospital the first thing they ask you is: “What’s wrong?”

In the United States, the first thing they ask you is: “What kind of insurance do you have?”

Number 10:
In Canada, the government negotiates drug prices so they are more affordable.

In the United States, under Obamacare, Congress made it specifically illegal for the government to negotiate drug prices for volume purchases, so they remain unaffordable.

Number 9:
In Canada, the government health care funds are not profitably diverted to the top one percent.

In the United States, under Obamacare, health care funds will continue to flow to the top. In 2012, CEOs at six of the largest insurance companies in the U.S. received a total of $83.3 million in pay, plus benefits.

Number 8:
In Canada, there are no necessary co-pays or deductibles.

In the United States, under Obamacare, the deductibles and co-pays will continue to be unaffordable for many millions of Americans.

Number 7:
In Canada, the health care system contributes to social solidarity and national pride.

In the United States, Obamacare is divisive, with rich and poor in different systems and tens of millions left out or with sorely limited benefits.

Number 6:
In Canada, delays in health care are not due to the cost of insurance.

In the United States, under Obamacare, patients without health insurance or who are underinsured will continue to delay or forgo care and put their lives at risk.

Number 5:
In Canada, nobody dies due to lack of health insurance.

In the United States, under Obamacare, many thousands will continue to die every year due to lack of health insurance.

Number 4:
In Canada, an increasing majority supports their health care system, which costs half as much, per person, as in the United States. And in Canada, everyone is covered.

In the United States, a majority – many for different reasons – oppose Obamacare.

Number 3:
In Canada, the tax payments to fund the health care system are progressive – the lowest 20 percent pays 6 percent of income into the system while the highest 20 percent pays 8 percent.

In the United States, under Obamacare, the poor pay a larger share of their income for health care than the affluent.

Number 2:
In Canada, the administration of the system is simple. You get a health care card when you are born. And you swipe it when you go to a doctor or hospital. End of story.

In the United States, Obamacare’s 2,500 pages plus regulations (the Canadian Medicare Bill was 13 pages) is so complex that then Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said before passage “we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.”

Number 1:
In Canada, the majority of citizens love their health care system.

In the United States, the majority of citizens, physicians, and nurses prefer the Canadian type system – single-payer, free choice of doctor and hospital , everybody in, nobody out.


  1. Bill Biddle on November 25, 2013 at 3:56 pm

    You talk about the single payer systme saving money but how about the lives that are lost while people wait for treatment. I could list story after story from countries all over the world with Single Payers systems, about people who die, while waiting for healthcare. I for one had to have a heart catherterization after chest pains, rushed to hospital, next day the procedure that found a block artery and a stent was inserted. The Canadian Medical Journal found that 50 people died while waiting for heart catherterization. Saving money at the expense of patients is not a solution.

    • Chetdude on November 25, 2013 at 5:32 pm

      How about the 45,000 USAmericans who DIE each year thanks to USAmerica’s for-profit corporate sick care system available only to the affluent?

      Or the 110,000 killed each year by profit-motivated malpractice?

      Having experienced both kinds of system, I’d take ANY single-payer system over our failed version of Sick Care…

    • Hank Bennett on November 25, 2013 at 5:40 pm

      Denying healthcare to save money (as has been done for many years by American health care insurance companies, is not a solution either. Furthermore, on an outcome basis (lifespan and health during lifespan), studies have shown that Canadians enjoy longer lifespans and better health on the whole than do Americans. In fact, a study of health care systems based on outcomes (lifespan and health during lifetime) placed the USA at No. 39 in the world, even behind such luminaries as Cuba. “Story after story” (anecdotal evidence)is NOT valid evidence of the efficacy of healthcare, as it does not include “story after story” in which different outcomes occured. The only valid studies of health care efficacy are double-blind statistical studies, and these all show that the USA is quite a ways behind Canada, and pretty much every other country that has a single-payer system, in health care outcomes.

    • Michelle on November 26, 2013 at 7:44 pm

      How many people do u personally kno that have died waiting for treatment in single payer systems. I don’t kno any. I do personally kno several people in other countries that r thankful that they do! My husbands uncle served in the US military & was a police officer. When he suffered a debilitating stroke he moved back to Germany where his wife is from so that he cud get the in home care he needs without going bankrupt. I have a cousin in Alberta that received quality life saving emergency care when one of her lungs collapsed. The list goes on.

  2. Howard Paley on November 25, 2013 at 6:20 pm

    Everybody in this country has the right to have health Insurance; not based on age, nationality or race. It is costing Americans more tax money. Everybody should have single payer, meaning contributing some; not depending on the employee workplace. There are many americans who cannot afford health Insurance; also those who are retired.

  3. Brian Pogue on November 25, 2013 at 6:53 pm

    Just one more (or should I say 21) reason why my parents should have stayed in Canada instead of coming down to L.A. They might have lived longer and, well, I’d be completely covered now.

  4. Carla on November 25, 2013 at 9:51 pm

    While coming home from SC, last year, we stopped at a rest area in Virginia to have an apple and some peanut butter. There was no where to sit but a couple, who looked about our age, maybe a bit younger asked us to join them. We did and started to chat. They were from Ontario, Canada. Being curious, I had to ask them how they liked their health care. This couple were in the early 70s, about five years younger than we were. They told us that they loved their health care. Yes, they said, non emergency care entailed a wait but only a couple of months. Anything of an emergency nature was handled immediately. They told us that we, here in the US, have been lied to by congress and the media. They were coming from Texas, where their son now lived, and were horrified at the wait to see a doctor that their son had to endure, and he had insurance. In their estimation their health care is far superior to ours, and health care in Canada is considered a right, not a privilege.
    This scenario echoes what a friend of mine, living in Montreal, experienced. She had a brain tumor, in he right frontal area of her brain and it was a meningioma. It was operated on immediately, and removed through her nose. A more modern procedure, as when I had a brain tumor, only six months earlier than she, in the right frontal lobe of my brain, and a meningioma, like hers,I had to have my head shaved and my skull cut open, and the tumor removed, and the skull wired back into place. So not only is their care better but the procedures used are more advanced.
    Oh, six months later my friend in Montreal needed surgery for hemorrhoids. For that, non emergency surgery, she did wait for six months, but she did not mind as this was something that could certainly wait to be done.

  5. Kent Zavacky on November 25, 2013 at 11:54 pm

    Lets be clear, the US does not have any healtcare system period. If so I would like to know what it is called.

  6. Pam Moak on November 26, 2013 at 10:44 am

    Yes, I agree single payer is the best choice. Obamacare is the best we could have gotten NOW. No way would a single payer plan have passed. But we now have our foot in the door. Once people get used to having insurance who haven’t had it, and people who are getting lower premiums get used to that (I know not everyone is), they will help support a single payer plan. But we had to start somewhere. Republicans know this, and that is why they are trying as hard as they are to kill it before it can take hold.

  7. Julienne Travers on November 26, 2013 at 1:09 pm

    After reading the above comments by those in Canada who have automatic health care and those in the US who don’t, I felt heartbroken for Americans who have been led to believe that they are lucky to have this terrible system. I live in Italy where we have health care for everyone and the stories told by the Canadians in rely to the American comments could have been written by anyone living in Italy. Italy actually has a record for the long duration of life. I too have never seen a hospital or doctor’s bill and have always had the freedom to choose my doctor and my hospital. I am 83 and have lived in Italy for 50 years and thanks to efficient health care am in excellent health.