REALITY CHECK. So how bad are those vicious Canadian waiting times? Well, it turns out not so bad. StatCanada -- a government body somewhat similar to the U.S. Census Bureau -- just released a report on the time Canadians spend in medical purgatory, and it turns out limbo just doesn't last that long. Median waiting times for all specialized services are between three and four weeks, and 70 to 80 percent of patients found their wait "acceptable." And remember: Most everyone can receive care, and very few need to fear its affordability. Looking at this data, even though I'm no fan of the Canadian system, it nevertheless seems to offer a tradeoff I'd accept.

The invaluable Matt Holt, surveying this data, notices not only that those times don't seem so bad, but that they compare pretty favorably with the sort of inequities faced in the United States. Here's a fascinating chart he grabs from Health Affairs that does a good job making the point:


We're number one! We're number one!

So here's what I want from you guys: Last time I needed a diagnostic -- a very, very standard one -- it took about a month. A friend of mine found a simple orthopedic evaluation couldn't be scheduled less than a month in advance. It routinely takes three months before she can see a specialist. But what are your average wait times? Remember, we're not talking primary care here, but specialists, diagnostics, procedures, etc. Are you satisfied with them? Or do you feel a long lag between medical complaint and resolution?

--Ezra Klein

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