Every country has a different mix of policies, services and funding mechanisms that influence the functioning and results of their healthcare systems. Each country also has a limit to what can be spent on healthcare and might choose different strategies to try to optimize outcomes. By surveying populations about their perceptions and experiences with the healthcare system, we can compare results across different systems.
Canada’s seniors’ care performs poorly compared to its peer countries, getting a B- overall. It is below the international average due to poor performance in the access to care and equity categories, but meets the international average for care processes. The top-performing country overall is Germany, with a straight-A healthcare system, followed by Australia, and Switzerland.
An international survey by the Commonwealth Fund, a US-based foundation dedicated to improving healthcare systems, provides data for this comparison. The Fund’s 2021 International Health Policy Survey of Older Adults (CMWF) focused on a random sample of seniors aged 65-and-older in 11 countries and asked about their experiences, interactions and perceptions of the healthcare system and health providers. The survey covers different aspects of seniors’ care including primary and specialist care, chronic illness care, coordination of care, hospital care, home care, end-of-life care planning, the health of seniors, and their overall perceptions of the health system. The 2021 survey also provides information about how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted seniors and their experience with the healthcare system.
Using 49 indicators from the CMWF survey, we created five summary categories: access to care, care process, equity, the impact of COVID-19 on seniors, and the health status of seniors in Canada compared to peer countries. Normalized scores in each category are translated to letter grades, based on the best international score (A+) and the international average (B). This international comparison allows us to understand where Canada’s health system is doing well in seniors’ care and areas for improvement.
For more information about the comparison results and methods of calculation see our report, Shortcomings in Seniors’ Care: How Canada Ranks Compared to its Peers and the Paths to Improvement.