Blog & Reviews

Are wait times reflective of who pays the bills or of doctor availability?

Jun 20, 2019 | Blog | 0 comments

As we continue our series to dismantle industry lies, we broaden its’ scope to include talking points against Improved Medicare for All, which are based on partial truths, and strive to tell all parts of the story. Opponents of single payer Improved Medicare for All often cite Canada’s long waiting times to see a doctor as evidence that we shouldn’t pursue single payer in the US. It is true that people in Canada have to wait longer for specialists and elective surgeries than patients in the United States who are insured and able to afford the care.

We forget to consider that for many Americans, wait times never end because we cannot afford the deductibles, copays, or coinsurance. Opponents have chosen Canada for these comparisons because Canada has the longest waiting times among many countries. Wait times in other countries with mostly publicly funded healthcare systems are not as long as in Canada. And while in the US only 24% of patients waited 4 weeks or longer to see a specialist, in Switzerland, Netherlands, and Germany, 22 – 25% of patients waited that long. Similarly, while in the US only 3% of patients waited 4 weeks or longer for elective surgery, in Switzerland – 6%, Netherlands – 4%, France – 2%, and in Germany – 0% of patients waited that long:

But the Commonwealth Fund Survey in 2016 also found that in some areas, waiting times are actually longer in the US than the average of 11 countries, including those with publicly funded healthcare systems (UK, Australia, France, Canada, New Zealand, etc.). These areas include getting a same- or next-day appointment to see a doctor or a nurse when sick and ER waiting time. Sadly, the US had the highest percent of patients (47% vs 20% in France) who said that last time they went to the hospital emergency department, it was for a condition that could have been treated by their family doctor or staff who were not available at that time.

OECD report lays out that waiting times are not a result of funding sources of healthcare, but are instead due to factors such as supply and demand for health services, health status of the population, progress in medical technologies, and the burden of cost-sharing for patients, which have become prohibitively high in the U.S.: Most importantly, the availability of doctors and other medical personnel plays a crucial role in solving a waiting time problem.

This week’s healthcare actions:
1. Submit your comment to Ways & Means Committee by June 26th! Instructions for submission is located here: In short, any person(s) and/or organization(s) wishing to submit written comments for the hearing record can do so here: [email protected] All submissions must be attached to the email in 1 MS Word document and cannot exceed a total of 10 pages. Submissions must include name, address, and telephone in the body of the email. If submitting on behalf of an organization or multiple people, all must be included for every individual involved. We will provide a template you can use, so be on the lookout for that over the next few days.
2. Share this opportunity to submit a public comment about #ImprovedMedicareForAll on your social media; encourage friends and family to submit their testimonies too.

Please help spread awareness and share in 2 ways. 1. Forward this email or 2. share from Facebook here:

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