Canadian healthcare isn't as free as you think

Originally published at:

Here in Quebec our pharmaceuticals are covered by RAMQ.


It’s crazy that our country can’t come up with a plan to take care of all of its people with equal treatment. That said, I’m really happy to hear that your drugs are covered. Do you pay a premium on your taxes for it?

What is the point of this post? Healthcare in Canada still costs half what it does in the USA, and the cost is pretty similar to every other first world nation with a national healthcare system. Of course you still have to pay for some bits of it; that’s true everywhere. I’ve had national healthcare in Australia, Japan, and Germany, and there’s ALWAYS something out of pocket. But implying that those systems aren’t vastly superior to America’s because of that is beyond disingenuous.


I was just about to mention that. It’s a little more complicated, but we do have universal pharmacare.

If you have coverage through work, you use that. If you don’t, you are required to sign up for the RAMQ plan, and you pay premiums through your taxes. Unlike general healthcare, the premium is visible as a line item. There are co-pays and deductibles, but there’s an annual cap (about $1000 if memory serves) and it applies to both RAMQ and private plans.


I don’t think anything in this post implies that it isn’t vastly superior to America’s health system.


Yes, there are premiums.

All the details:

It’s still a hell of a lot better than south of the border. More than a few Canadians hang out on this site, and this is a topic we’ve dug into.

BC has Fair Pharmacare that makes drugs a lot more affordable, and it’s income based, so how much you are subsidized depends on how much you make. Other posters have mentioned Quebec’s plan.

I know it probably wasn’t your intent, but this post came across as really patronizing, especially since this is a subject regular BB readers have dug into, quite often.


I’m not sure either way, honestly. “It’s not as free as you think” can very easily be read as “it’s not as good as you think”, or even “you have been misled to believe that it is more affordable than it is”, and this post doesn’t really do much to distance itself from that interpretation. That may not have been the intent, but it sure could be read that way.


Canada has the second highest drug prices of any industrialized country in the world

Take a wild guess who’s Number 1.


We pay for all of our medicare through premiums collected with our provincial taxes, the pharmaceutical coverage is charged separately, and there is some copay charged at point of purchase for certain items.


Bingo. And just to add this: High Drug Prices Are Killing Americans | HuffPost Latest News

Even before that, we spent nearly 40 percent more per person on prescriptions in 2013 than they did in Canada, the next most expensive industrialized country.


This almost reads like something I’d expect to see in Breitbart about the “horrors” of socialized medicine.

So of course it’s not “free as in beer”, it’s more like “free as in puppies”.


Canadian healthcare isn’t as free as you think

I’m going to file this under “R” for “River, Cry me a”


In terms of drug prices, there is no Canada, only provinces. I assume that the Guardian worked out some kind of cross-Canada average?


It could be read that way, but there’s a legitimate point to be made that no, Canadians don’t have the equivalent of a US Senator’s gold-plated health insurance plan and no, not everything about it is always free of charge. And in particular, portability across provincial boundaries has always been imperfect and a source of anxiety and unforeseen expenses.

There’s a reason there’s still a private health insurance industry here, even though it’s not the malignant behemoth they have in the U.S.

I think these are valuable things to discuss for the benefit of people living in certain countries where the adoption of universal healthcare is still being debated.


Have they finally admitted women to the Possum Lodge?

And is it true there’s a path to citizenship if you serve in the Mounties?


Fair enough, but I think the article would benefit from a bit more context.


No argument there. It’s a very brief piece.