How much does waiting for healthcare really cost Canadians?

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Long waits for surgeries and other medical treatments cost Canadians $1.2 billion in lost wages and reduced productivity in 2014, according to the Fraser Institute.

Of nearly one million patients waiting for surgery last year, each person was burdened with almost $1,300 in personal costs related to lost time lost during the work week.

British Columbia’s average cost per person waiting on healthcare with specialists was $1,514.

“Clearly, waiting for health care can cause immense pain and discomfort, and puts people at risk of further disability and death. What we often don’t fully grasp, however, is the fact that patients are losing valuable time as they wait for medically necessary treatment,” said Fraser Institute senior economist and study co- author Bacchus Barua.

“Whether it’s actually lost income from not working, lower productivity, or reduced engagement with friends and family, waiting is costing Canadians dearly.”

In the Fraser Institutes 2014 survey on hospital wait times, patients seeking medical treatment with specialists had an average wait time of nearly ten weeks.

“Without sensible policy reform, these waits will continue to be a detriment to not only the health of Canadian patients, but to their pocketbooks, their quality of life, and our overall economy,” said Barua.

Here is a list of the average cost per person waiting for medical care, broken down by province and ordered from most expensive to least (data was not provided for territories):

  1. Nova Scotia: $2,081
  2. Alberta: $1,848
  3. Manitoba: $1,797
  4. Newfoundland and Labrador: $1,746
  5. Prince Edward Island: $1,636
  6. British Columbia: $1,514
  7. New Brunswick: $1,167
  8. Quebec: $995
  9. Ontario: $959
  10. Saskatchewan: $813

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Lauren Sundstrom Lauren is a Staff Writer and Projects Assistant at Vancity Buzz. She is a graduate of BCIT's Broadcast and Online Journalism program. She loves reporting on breaking news and lifestyle content. If you feel like you have a story that needs to be told, fire her a tweet.
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