A case study: US vs Canada health care costs

Interesting case study about medical costs and pricing of medical services in Canada and the US.

I have a friend who insists on travelling abroad uninsured.

While in Canada, he developed appendicitis. Needed urgent scan, urgent surgery, antibiotics. Was admitted to the surgical ward for 3 days. Nursing care, labs, etc… Total medical bill = 2800$CAN, about 2200$US.

A year later, in the US, that same buddy went to the ER for a kidney stone. Was not admitted (stayed in the ER), got a scan, labs. Left after 6h after the stone passed spontaneously. No meds needed. Barely saw the doc. Total medical medical bill = 19 500$US

Comments appreciated.

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doesn’t represent the true cost.

the infrastructure is subsidized by the Canadian taxpayer and those savings were passed on to your friend.

traveling without health insurance is fucking dumb


I am Canadian and living and working in the USA.

I had a uncle that visited me a few years back. He had an emergency and was admited to the hospital. He was kinda dismayed at the insurance beaurcocy that the patient has to go through while getting treatment. In Canada, all you have to do is swipe your Social Insurance Card and no nonesense. There’s nothing wrong with taxpayer subsidizing the health care infrastructure as long as you get your tax dollars are working for you to your benefit.

Can the USA switch to nationalized healthcare… I doubt it. The insurance companies have a hand up the government’s asses that healthcare will always be a for profit venture. I have this theory that the distrust towards medicare professionals are rooted in preceived for-profit motive.

That was my impression too. Until I saw the fine print.

A scan (not a MRI) that you do in any private clinic cost about 500-1000$.

My friend was charged 500$ in Canada. Was charged 7000$ in the US. 7000$ is nowhere near the true cost of a scan.



what is the cost of a machine and what is the volume of use?

and it isnt just the cost of the machine.

what is malpractice insurance worth? how much is the building per month? how much hr burden are you carrying?

the true cost of each scan has to cover all of that.

the more you use the machine the less per scan the scan will cost.

I personally don’t think insurance has any place in medicine. the model requires more people to pay in than use the system and in order to generate profit there is a massive motive to limit services.

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There was a massive mark-up in everything in the US hospital.

My buddy was charged 80$ for basic routine labs in Canada (3 days worth). Was charged 1500$ for 1 set of routine labs (chemistry and hematology) in the US.

In fact the only thing that made sense in the US bill was the physician’s fee. It was 240$ for the doctor’s visit. Everything else made no sense.

those labs in Canada probably cost way more than 80 dollars.

my best friend from high school runs a lab in a Canadian hospital and she makes close to 150k a year.

even if a lab takes 20 minutes 80 dollars won’t cover it.

also, if you are running a well equipped facility and staffing it with the same people, in order to perform an mri scan you won’t be able to monetize your ultrasound, CT… etc equipment so the cost of whatever scan you are getting has to cover the acquisition costs of all of the other equipment you have purchased to operate.

costs in canada have to be a fraction of what they are here. tort reform was a joke.

I don’t think our medical professionals are particularly well compensated either. I’m American I’m America and work in healthcare. Our system is broken because of govt corruption, which they then try to blame on other factors. Employer provided private health insurance needs to die as a model


Canada doesn’t have the same malpractice system as the usa. it is virtually impossible to successfully sue for malpractice in canada

Insurance companies and medical providers agree to pre-negotiated costs, so the providers submit the maximum possible hoping for the highest payout.

If you needed to pay cash for something you’d get a different price.

My daughter needed to have two wisdom teeth removed before going to college. She was scheduled to have it done by Dr A, but our insurance changed before the procedure and he went out of network. That meant we’d have to pay the full $4200 ourselves or switch to a different Dr.

There wasn’t enough time to switch before she left for school, so we talked to the doctor.

He said he’d be able to do it for $900.

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A CBC and biochemistry cost about 30$ in a private clinic in the US.

what is your definition of cost though?

is the fee for a cbc 30? or is the cost 30?

in private business (i own one) often times we will reduce our prices for small work in order to secure future big work

You want to have some fun (and by fun, I mean waste some time), call some MRI facilities and tell them your doctor requested you get an MRI (use the same MRI your friend had if it’s appropriate) and ask them how much it’ll cost. Tell them you have no insurance and will be paying cash, I bet they’ll do it for under $1k.

One of the things that drives up medical care costs in the US is drawn out process, the insurance companies, and all the regulations and laws. But when you cut as much of the noise out as possible and just pay cash, you get a much more reasonable price

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A CBC and biochemistry cost about 30$ in a private clinic in the US.

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cost who?

This is absolutely true.

I pay 2000$ per year in malpractice insurance in Canada. About 15000$ per year in US

had a cardiac calcification score done when i was 38. it’s a CT scan of your heart to tell you how much plaque you have in your coronary arteries. insurance doesn’t cover it. went to a fancy imaging place and paid them about $130 i think.

results came back with zero plaque.

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Right. Obviously cost and charges are different.

If an uninsured patient goes to the private clinic next to my US hospital, they are charged 30$ for CBC, lytes, and creatinine. I assume their cost for doing it is lower.