By Kathleen Phalen-Tomaselli

For Vancouver filmmakers Ronan Reinart and Kate Twa, all medically necessary health care is covered by their government’s single-payer Medical Services Plan, the provincial program that covers health-care benefits for British Columbia residents.

“We pay a small monthly premium — in our case, around $100 for two — which is determined by income, and low-income folks don’t pay any premium,” Reinart said. “Elective and non-necessary procedures we pay for, but there may be tax deductions for many of these.”

Unlike millions of Americans with minimal access to care because they have no health care insurance, or those paying exorbitantly high premiums with deductibles over $5,000, residents of many other countries are assured access to quality care for a minimal or non-existent fee.

In a University of Washington study published in the May issue of the British medical journal Lancet, U.S. residents’ access to quality care did not fare well, with an overall score of 81, tied with Estonia and Montenegro.

And in nine treatment categories — lower respiratory infections, neonatal disorders, non-melanoma skin cancer, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, ischemic heart disease, hypertensive heart disease, diabetes, chronic kidney disease and the adverse effects of medical treatment itself — the U.S. scored below many countries, including those with high poverty rates, some ravaged by civil wars, and those that U.S. leaders point to as falling far behind this country in many categories.


Christopher Murray, Director of the UW Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation and a Professor of Global Health, is the senior author of the study.

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