American health insurance companies have a long history of trying to scare Americans away from universal healthcare by claiming that we’ll be stuck with huge waiting lines. As evidence, they usually reference Canada, which has a very popular single-payer system that covers everyone, while spending only about half as much as the U.S.
First, it’s important to clarify that, as in Canada, there are NO waiting lists for emergency procedures. It’s also important to bear in mind that waiting times are a part of every healthcare system. Although patients in some parts of Canada have reported longer wait times for certain non-emergency procedures, it seems to vary widely by province. In many parts of Canada, the waiting times are similar to those in the United States… assuming you have insurance. Overall, the waiting time issue in Canada is much smaller than portrayed by American health insurance companies.
The New York Health Act will remove many of the sources of long wait times in the US. There will be no limited provider networks, and providers will no longer discriminate against Medicaid and Medicare patients, since reimbursement rates will be standardized. There will be no barriers to provider choice, creating a greater range of options, especially in urban areas with greater concentrations of providers.
With reduced paperwork and administrative burden, providers will have more time to devote to patient care and the management of patient flow. This will be especially important in the face of the expected increase in utilization of health care services. Hospitals, too, will be relieved of an administrative burden and be able to devote more resources to patient services.
In the longer run, NY Health planners will be able to work with the Governor and the Commissioner of Health to increase the supply of providers in rural areas and to provide the necessary capital for expanding patient care facilities and diagnostic technology where it is needed.
For more information on wait times, read this briefing paper.