Americans have created a healthcare system that fails to meet our needs while annual costs of this system increase at double-digit rates. Consumers and employers bear most of this burden. In their efforts to control costs, insurers and health plans limit patients’ access to care and reduce payments to providers, because of hassles from insurers, shrinking incomes, and huge increases in malpractice insurance premiums, some physicians are actually abandoning the practice of medicine. Consequently, around 40 million Americans do not have access to healthcare. The current public debate centers not on whether the system must be fixed, but how. Each party patients, doctors, hospitals, employers, insurers, and health plans defends its own needs and priorities.
Almost four decades ago, Canada and the United States had very similar health care systems. Today they are very different. The divergence of the Canadian system to a predominantly publicly-financed and privately-delivered health care system has resulted in two systems that differ not only in the comprehensiveness and universality of their insurance coverage, but also differ in hospital budgeting, physician reimbursement, medical malpractice, administration costs and, possibly, resource availability. These facts of both health care systems have been examined and contrasted over the years. However, a more difficult dimension of these systems that has not been comprehensively or definitively evaluated is whether the health outcomes of patients of both countries are equivalent given similar treatments or procedures.
Define the problem
Assessment of quality of care can occur at one or more levels, from the care provided by an entire health system or plan provided by an individual hospital of health professional. Quality of care is the fundamental goal of health care, yet it is difficult to define. It is a concept that health care policy and programming strives for, and that many have attempted to elucidate. Given its many components and manifestations, defining and quantifying quality of care, in the context of health, is extremely difficult. Almost four decades ago, Canada and the United States had very similar health care systems. Today, they are very different. The Canadian system is predominantly publicly financed, whereas the American one is funded primarily through a private system, resulting in many sequels. What is less clear is whether the two different health care systems produce differences in the quality of care for their respective populations?
Quality health care can be defined as striving for and reaching excellent standards of care. It involves assessing the appropriateness of medical tests and treatments and measures to continually improve personal health care in all fields of medicine. Quality health care is a measurement of the health care received at your doctor or dentist's office, your local emergency room or during a hospital stay. Quality goes way beyond the manners or attitude of health care providers. (eHow.com). When it comes to quality healthcare it means improving the processes used in fulfilling these elements following elements, recognize patients at risk for diseases, appropriate evaluation, making appropriate diagnoses, starting the appropriate treatment, scheduling the appropriate follow-up, and stimulating the appropriate compliance treatment.(Feld, 2007). As we are all aware, “health care, no matter what type or system, or country, is a very important and crucial part of a person’s life” (Murphy, 2006.).
Canada and the US had similar health care systems in the early 1960s, but now have a different mix of funding mechanisms. Canada's universal single-payer health care system covers about 70% of expenditures, and the Canada Health Act requires that all insured persons be fully insured, without co-payments or user fees, for all medically necessary hospital and