In the United States, a legion of administrative healthcare workers and health insurance employees who play no direct role in providing patient care costs every American man, woman and child an average of $2,497 per year.
Across the border in Canada, where a single-payer system has been in place since 1962, the cost of administering healthcare is just $551 per person — less than a quarter as much.
That spending mismatch, tallied in a study published this week in the Annals of Internal Medicine, could challenge some assumptions about the relative efficiency of public and private healthcare programs. It could also become a hot political talking point on the American campaign trail as presidential candidates debate the pros and cons of government-funded universal health insurance.
Progressive contenders for the Democratic nomination, including Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, are calling for a “Medicare for All” system. More centrist candidates, including former Vice President Joe Biden and former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, have questioned the wisdom of turning the government into the nation’s sole health insurer.