May 31, 2010 / 6:19 PM / in 7 years

Factbox: Canada's universal healthcare system

TORONTO (Reuters) - Here are some facts about Canada’s universal healthcare system:

* Canada’s “single payer” national health insurance program promises all residents reasonable access to medically necessary hospital and physician services without co-payments or direct charges at the point of service.

* The program, often referred to as “medicare,” comprises 13 provincial and territorial health insurance plans, all of which share certain common standards of coverage, governed by the 1984 Canada Health Act.

* Provinces and territories must comply with the Canada Health Act to receive federal transfer payments.

* Ottawa in 2004 agreed to give the provinces an additional C$41 billion ($39 billion) for healthcare spending, allowing 6 percent growth yearly. The deal expires in 2013.

* The federal government has also since agreed to additional transfers for initiatives such as reducing wait times, HPV (human papillomavirus) immunization and electronic health records.

* Healthcare costs are mostly paid from income taxes, although some provinces also impose premiums that may be waived or reduced for low-income residents.

* An estimated 70 percent of healthcare expenditures is covered by public funding and 30 percent is paid for privately. Private payments include those for prescription drugs (including topping up public coverage for the elderly), dental, vision care and other services.

* Healthcare spending in Canada was expected to reach C$183.1 billion in 2009, an estimated increase or 5.5 percent since 2008, according to the Canadian Institute of Health Information.

* In 2000, the World Health Organization ranked Canada No. 30 out of 191 member countries in overall health system efficiency and performance. The United States ranked 37, while France topped the rankings.

* A 2009 poll by Nanos Research found 86 percent of Canadians surveyed supported or strongly supported “public solutions to make our public healthcare stronger”.

Reporting by Claire Sibonney; editing by Janet Guttsman

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