September 7, 2022 – A summer of health care related horror stories – from emergency room closures to doctor shortages to surgery delays – is shaking public faith in what has traditionally been a source of national pride.
A comprehensive new cross-border study of Canadians and Americans from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute finds those north of the border dealing with considerably more difficulty in accessing care. This is the first in a three-part series canvassing opinion on access to, quality of, and policy towards health care in Canada.
It finds that over the last six months, two-in-five Canadians (41%) – approximately 12.8 million adults – say they either had a difficult time accessing or were totally unable to access one of five key health services: non-emergency care, emergency care, surgery, diagnostic testing, and specialist appointments.
Americans are much less likely to say they encountered barriers to accessing those services, despite near-identical levels of the population seeking this type of care – 70 per cent in the United States and 74 per cent in Canada.
Asked how confident they feel that they could access urgent care in a timely fashion if a household emergency arises, 37 per cent of Canadians are confident while 61 per cent are not. In the United States, 70 per cent are confident, while one-quarter (25%) are not.
To better synthesize a significant amount of response data, Angus Reid Institute researchers created a Health Care Access Index, which finds the smallest group – 15 per cent of the population – enjoying Comfortable Access (approximately 4.7 million Canadian adults). The rest of the country is divided into three groups – those facing Some Challenges (31% – 9.7 million), Chronic Difficulty (29% – 9 million), and those not requiring access during this period (26% – 8.1 million).
Suppose you had an emergency today - you or someone in your family needed emergency care - how confident are you that you would be able to get care in a timely fashion?
More Key Findings
Canada vs. USA
Americans are twice as likely as Canadians to report Comfortable Access to health care – 30 per cent compared to 15 per cent respectively.
In Canada, young women and young men are most likely to be found in the Chronic Difficulty group, compared to their older peers. British Columbians and Atlantic Canadians are also overrepresented in this most challenged category of health care seekers.
Among those who had easy or very easy access to surgery, 55 per cent say their health has improved over the past six months. Three-in-ten (28%) say their health has stayed the same, while 17 per cent report it as having worsened. Those who had a difficult or impossible experience accessing this type of care are twice as likely (34%) to say their health has worsened since.
The Angus Reid Institute conducted two online surveys in August 2022. Sample in Canada was drawn from Angus Reid Forum, while sample in the United States was drawn from Angus Reid Forum USA. The survey was self-commissioned and paid for by ARI.
In Canada: The Angus Reid Institute conducted an online survey from Aug. 8-10, 2022, among a representative randomized sample of 2,279 Canadian adults who are members of Angus Reid Forum. For comparison purposes only, a probability sample of this size would carry a margin of error of +/- 2.0 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
In United States: The Angus Reid Institute conducted an online survey from Aug. 16-17, 2022, among a representative randomized sample of 1,209 American adults who are members of Angus Reid Forum USA. For comparison purposes only, a probability sample of this size would carry a margin of error of +/- 3.0 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
For detailed Canadian results by age, gender, region, education, and other demographics, click here.
For Canadian results by ease of access to health care services, click here.
For detailed American results by age, gender, region, education, and other demographics, click here.
For detailed results across the Health Care Access Index, click here for Canada and here for the United States.
To read the full report, including detailed tables and methodology, click here.
To read the questionnaire in English and French, click here.
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From the Angus Reid Institute, Canada’s non-profit foundation committed to independent research.For detailed breakdown of the results, visit angusreid.org