Wait for medical treatment costed $1.9B in lost wages: Study

Long wait times for medical services is nothing new for Canadians.

However, it’s costing us billions in lost wages, according to a new study by the Fraser Institute.

The study, entitled The Private Cost of Public Queues for Medically Necessary Care 2018, released by the independent Canadian public policy think-tank stated long waits for things such as surgery and medical treatment cost people $1.9 billion in lost wages in 2017.

According to the study, an estimated 1,040,791 patients lost an average of $1,822 in wages while awaiting medical treatment during work hours.

Outside of the traditional weekday work hours — such as evenings and weekends — the Fraser Institute study concluded the cost of money lost jumps to $5.8 billion last year, or $5,559 per person.

“Canadians are waiting longer than ever for health care, and in addition to increased pain and suffering— and potentially worse medical outcomes — these long waits also cost Canadians time at work and with family and friends,” said the study’s co-author Bacchus Barua, who is also the associate director of health policy studies at the Fraser Institute, in a media release.

A break down of the average value of time lost per province. (Fraser Institute)

The institute compiled the new study using data from its Waiting Your Turn study, which polled physicians on wait times. The previous study concluded that wait times to see a specialist for treatment was 10.9 weeks — three weeks longer than what health professionals consider reasonable.

The Fraser Institute concluded that $1.9 billion lost in 2017 is a conservative guess as it doesn’t consider the added 10.2-week wait to see a specialist after being referred from a doctor. When added together, the average wait time for treatment was 21 weeks last year.

“As long as lengthy wait times define Canada’s health-care system, patients will continue to pay a price in lost wages and reduced quality of life,” said Barua.