The Private Cost of Public Queues for Medically Necessary Care, 2016 Edition

Valuing only hours lost during the average work week, the estimated cost of waiting for care in Canada for patients who were in the queue in 2015 was almost $1.2 billion. This works out to an average of about $1,304 for each of the estimated 894,449 Canadians waiting for treatment in 2015. This is a conservative estimate that places no intrinsic value on the time individuals spend waiting in a reduced capacity outside of the work week. Valuing all hours of the week, including evenings and weekends but excluding eight hours of sleep per night, would increase the estimated cost of waiting to $3.5 billion, or about $3,951 per person.

This estimate only counts costs that are borne by the individual waiting for treatment. The costs of care provided by family members (the time spent caring for the individual waiting for treatment) and their lost productivity due to the difficulty or mental anguish are no valued in this estimate. Moreover, non-monetary medical costs, such as increased risk of mortality or adverse events that result directly from long delays for treatment, are not included in this estimate.

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