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October 22 2008

Comparison of the US and Canadian Health Care Systems: A Tale of 2 Mount Sinai’s

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Departments of Geriatrics and Adult Development and Medicine, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY, and HSR&D Research Enhancement Award Program and Geriatrics Research, Education, and Clinical Center, James J. Peters Veterans Administration Medical Center, Bronx, New York (Dr Ross); Department of Medicine, Mount Sinai Hospital and University Health Network and Departments of Medicine and Health Policy, Management, and Evaluation, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada (Dr Detsky).

JAMA. 2008;300(16):1934-1936. doi:10.1001/jama.300.16.1934

There is continued popular interest in comparing the heath care systems of the United States and Canada. Newspapers, magazines, and films frequently revisit the topic, aligning arguments with 1 of 2 general themes: “The United States needs universal health care, as is offered in Canada” or “The United States must avoid socialized medicine, as is offered in Canada.” There is less popular interest in discussing whether Canada should convert to a health care system modeled on the United States, although there is increasing reliance on private spending in some provinces and territories. Discussions primarily focus on the starkest differences that have become apparent between the 2 systems since Canada's provinces began enacting universal coverage for hospital care throughout the late 1940s and 1950s, ie, the role of private insurance and extent of spending.