The Private Cost of Public Queues for Medically Necessary Care, 2022
20 April 2022
One measure of the privately borne cost of wait times is the value of time that is lost while waiting for treatment.
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 2021 was almost $4.1 billion. This works out to an average of about $2,848 for each of the estimated 1,425,517 Canadians waiting for treatment in 2021.
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 almost $12.4 billion, or about $8,706 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 difficulty or mental anguish are not 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.