Slightly more Americans than Canadians report having unmet health needs, but most Americans cite expense as the main barrier to care, while the Canadians tend to blame waiting lists.
Most people in both countries -- 88% of Canadians and 85%per cent of Americans -- considered themselves in good, very good or excellent health, says a report by Statistics Canada and the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics.
About 42% of Americans reported the quality of their healthcare service was excellent, compared with 39% of Canadians, said the study.
But the health status of low-income people was worse in the United States: 31% of Americans in the lowest income group reported their health as merely fair or poor versus 23% of Canadians.
In both countries, low-income people had more unmet needs than the wealthy, but the U.S. gap was bigger: 27% of Americans in the lowest income group reported unmet needs, compared with 17% of Canadians.
Including all income groups, 13% of Americans reported they had experienced an unmet health need in the year prior to the survey, versus 11% of Canadians.
Among Canadians with unmet needs, about one-third reported long waiting times as the primary obstacle, but more than half of Americans in the same category reported cost as the primary barrier.
Canadians have universal access to hospital and physician services, while Americans generally require private medical insurance. The survey found that 11% of Americans are uninsured.
The report is based on the Joint Canada-United States Survey of Health, the first attempt to collect comprehensive information on health status using a standard approach in both countries.