cost of waiting for care

For many Canadians, vacation may mean beach, golf… and surgery

In 2016, Canadians could expect to wait 10.6 weeks for medically necessary treatment after seeing a specialist.

Canada’s health-care wait times costing patients many millions in lost time, wages

In 2016, the median wait time between referral to treatment was 20 weeks—the longest ever recorded.

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 Private Cost of Public Queues for Medically Necessary Care 2017

Summary

  • One measure of the privately borne cost of wait times is the value of time that is lost while waiting for treatment.
  • Valuing only hours lost during the average work week, the estimated cost of waiting for care in Canada for patients who were in the queue in 2016 was more than $1.7 billion. This works out to an average of about $1,759 for each of the estimated 973,505 Canadians waiting for treatment in 2016.
  • This is a conservative estimate that places no intrinsic value on the time individuals spend waiting in a reduced capacity outside of the work week. Valuing all hours of the week, including evenings and weekends but excluding eight hours of sleep per night, would increase the estimated cost of waiting to $5.2 billion, or about $5,360 per person.
  • This estimate only counts costs that are borne by the individual waiting for treatment. The costs of care provided by family members (the time spent caring for the individual waiting for treatment) and their lost productivity due to difficulty or mental anguish are not valued in this estimate. Moreover, non-monetary medical costs, such as increased risk of mortality or adverse events that result directly from long delays for treatment, are not included in this estimate.

Long health-care wait times costing Canadians time and money

On average, Canadians who waited for treatment after seeing a specialist experienced a personal cost of $1,304 in lost productivity and income.

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Private Cost of Public Queues for Medically Necessary Care, 2016

One measure of the privately borne cost of wait times is the value of time that is lost while waiting for treatment.

Valuing only hours lost during the average work week, the estimated cost of waiting for care in Canada for patients who were in the queue in 2015 was almost $1.2 billion. This works out to an average of about $1,304 for each of the estimated 894,449 Canadians waiting for treatment in 2015.

This is a conservative estimate that places no intrinsic value on the time individuals spend waiting in a reduced capacity outside of the work week. Valuing all hours of the week, including evenings and weekends but excluding eight hours of sleep per night, would increase the estimated cost of waiting to $3.5 billion, or about $3,951 per person.

This estimate only counts costs that are borne by the individual waiting for treatment. The costs of care provided by family members (the time spent caring for the individual waiting for treatment) and their lost productivity due to difficulty or mental anguish are not valued in this estimate. Moreover, non-monetary medical costs, such as increased risk of mortality or adverse events that result directly from long delays for treatment, are not included in this estimate.

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