Canada VS USA. Where Is It Cheaper to Be Healthy?

While these two neighboring countries share a whole lot of similarities and despite having key cultural differences often considered to be great buddies rather than rivalries, people inhabiting USA and Canada love to make comparisons. We want to make a comparison of our own. This analysis may be quite off, but we will try to make a couple of valid points.

Expenditures Per Capita

The amount of money an individual spends on health care is not the most telling statistic. In fact, many factors drastically change the way we should perceive this type of data. Let’s sum up the most impactful determinants capable of significantly altering the understanding of the true meaning behind EPC.

The condition of the economy and the income per capita. In a healthier economy a person with a stable income tends to increase his personal healthcare budget. The more we earn, the more we can spend.

  • The price of medical care. In some countries basic prices on medications, procedures, and diagnosing differ greatly depending on the technological advance and other noteworthy circumstances. USA and Germany are countries with expensive medicine and people there tend to spend more on average.
  • The governmental share in personal expenditures. In both Canada and USA, government is closely involved in the very process of controlling and managing the whole medical industry. There are special programs that allow people to receive assistance from government when they seek for medical attention.
  • Additional considerable aspects surely exist yet we will void them for the sake of transparency. These three factors alone hugely affect the perception of the number we are about to discuss. Here are the statistics with a short analysis.

Canada spent 11.4% of nationwide GDP on healthcare in 2012 with $4445 spent per capita. With 71% of this number covered by the government, we can safely say that Canadians are feeling quite well when it comes to seeking for affordable medical attention.

Americans spent 17.6% of nationwide GDP on healthcare in 2012 with $8233 spent per capita. Note that while the government assisted via covering some expenditures more when it comes to raw numbers spending roughly $4 thousand of federal budget money per individual, the share of governmental assistance is much lower than in Canada and floats near the 46% mark.

The data is pulled from the report by Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. This data may be slightly misleading and make you think that US citizens live better and spend more on average. However, there are some other key statistics that you need to incorporate in your analysis in order to compare the data in a fair way.


Medication prices

While the difference in healthcare administration are quite notable, we want to focus on a more individually influential statistic – the average expenditures on drugs. Many physiological, therapeutic, and even diagnostic procedures are often covered by the government. However, the vast majority of drugs is bought by patients. State-supplied drugs aside, Canadians spend on average $510 on drugs compared to $770 spend by Americans each year.

The difference comes from two relevant considerations – the average annual salary and the average price of drugs in the country. A Canadian citizen earns 18.5% less than an American on average. However, US citizens spend only 1.3% of their year salary on drugs, while Canadians spend 1.06%. You can check this data at OECD as well.

Drugs cost more in USA and branded versions of various medications are quite expensive. At the same time, independent studies concluded that Americans spend less money shopping online and using generic drugs which are generally cheaper. On the contrary, Canadian prefer to shop online and cut their expenses by implementing lots of generic drugs in their treatment plans. With companies like Canadian Health & Care Mall being in the vanguard of the industry in terms of supplying important information about drugs.

Medication pricing makes the biggest difference in our comparison. While other areas are often covered at least partially by the government, people have to purchase good medications and supplements on their own which makes living in USA slightly less economically sound when it comes to analyzing which country is the best in terms of money to healthcare efficiency ratio.

Generic Drugs in Canada and the US

Price negotiation is the true reason why Canadians enjoy a better life quality in terms of personal healthcare. The drugs are not only easier released to the market; they will be priced fairly due to the committee that determines the maximum allowed price for a specific drug after comparing it to other similar brands in the market. This makes the whole market much more flexible and dynamic offering more affordable prices.

Canadians love generic drugs that are cheaper and just as effective when compared to branded versions of the products. Lots of American pharmacies do not even offer some generics because they were not approved or take too long to be approved by the government. Canadians can start using them much earlier.

The Canadian approach is beneficial in multiple ways. Patented branded drugs are priced fairly and when generics enter the market they frequently cause a major shift in pricing that is more often advantageous for customers than not.

Many online pharmacies in Canada have a much wider catalogue of drugs that are completely legal and made it through the approval committee. At the same time, many Americans will struggle to find specific alternative drugs in the country.

The Lifestyle

Another meaningful point is average life expectancy and life style. Canadians tend to live better when it comes to working out and balancing nutrition. There are various statistics where Canadians look better than Americans and vice versa. We don’t want to spend hours on comparing different and often unrelated to each other numbers. Let’s just make a brief runthrough.

  • Bad habits. There is a lot of smokers in Canada with the most recent estimation indicating that over 17% of Canadians over 12 are active smokers. The same number is much lower in the US where only 15.8% of people smoke regularly. 22 millions of Canadians are regular drinkers with over 4% of people being systematic drinkers yet not alcoholics. However, Americans are not far away with the annual consumption of PURE alcohol being close to 15.5 liters per capita.
  • The WHO studies showed that the average life expectancy in Canada is over 80 years, while Americans are expected to live about 76 years on average. This statistic is not the most telling as the average life expectancy depends on a plethora of factors that are not entirely related to healthcare. The level of criminal activity, behavioral stereotypes, and many other circumstances make people in Canada “safer” and less exposed to unnatural causes of death.

Eating healthier. This is somewhat related to ethnic differences in Canada and USA. The latter is a country with lots of Latin Americans who eat primarily spicy, fatty, and gluten-rich foods. Fast food networks are also more developed in the US. The vast majority of cuisine architypes in Canada are influenced by Asian immigrants and French people who eat healthier in general. Eating healthy is slightly cheaper in Canada where average market prices for food are ~15-20% lower than in USA.


When it comes to direct comparison of two countries, the cost of healthy living is much lower in Canada due to a plethora of factors. Prices are lower in general, the lifestyles are different and favor Canadians when it comes to healthiness. Medications are much more affordable and there is a much wider choice for Canadians when it comes to choosing the right drug.

Services like Canadian Health&Care Mall help in picking the best generic drug out of a large assortment of drugs that are completely legal in Canada. Sadly, many US citizens are stripped off this opportunity and have to use much more expensive branded drugs while overpaying for healthcare administration, nutrition, and living in general. If you were born in Canada, consider yourself a happy man. To top it all off, you are expected to live 6 years more than your neighbors from America!

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