The Medical Issues Poll

The Medical Issues Poll

January 10, 2017 – CARP members were polled on a variety of medical issues related to medications, benefit plans, family doctors, wait times, surgical procedures, physician caps and private health care. Here’s what we discovered:

Medications and Benefits Plans

The vast majority of CARP members polled (85.5%) currently take at least one medication. Over half (55%) take 3 or more medication. While most CARP members require medication, a significant percentage of our members (32.8%) do not have access to a health and dental benefit plan.


More than half of our members polled (50.3%) have not been vaccinated for shingle, however the vast majority (74.8%) have received the flu vaccination in 2016.

Health Status

A small, but noticeable percentage of CARP members (9.1%) currently experience a medical condition that prevents them from participating in day to day activities, like cooking a meal, taking a bath or doing laundry.

Family Doctor and Wait Times

The vast majority of members polled (95.6%) currently have a family doctor, however a larger percentage than expected (4.4%) do not. Close to one third (29.5%) of CARP members attended a walk-in clinic within the past year.

When our members call for an urgent medical appointment, well over half (65.8%) are able to see their physician the same day or the next day. A noticeable number of our members polled (13%) are not able to see their physician for four days or more for an urgent medical appointment. This is troubling. Newfoundland and Quebec are the worse culprits for urgent medical issue wait times, with 42.9% and 35.3% of patients, respectively, waiting four days or more to see their physician. On the other hand, PEI topped the chart with no CARP member reporting a waiting time longer than 3 days.

When the issue is not urgent, over half of our members polled (55.4%) wait four days or longer for an appointment, with a small number (4.1%) seeing their physician on the same day they call.

Physician Caps, Private Health Care and Surgical Procedure Waiting Times

Currently, some provinces cap the amount a physician can bill the provincial healthcare system in one year. The majority of CARP members (61.5%) support physician caps. When a physician has reached his or her cap, the vast majority of CARP members who are decided on the issue (83.8%) believe that physicians should not be permitted to bill Canadians privately.

Wait times for medical procedures prove problematic for Canadians. To decrease waiting times, more than half of our members polled (51%) said they would drive 50 km or more from their home and close to half (47.6%) said they would drive more than 100 km from their home to have the procedure done. The vast majority of our members (86.2%) would be willing to have the surgical procedure completed during irregular hours (between 8 pm and 7 am). Slightly more than one third (36%) would be prepared to co-pay to decrease waiting times.

A significant number of our members (39.7%) believe Canadians should be able to purchase diagnostic procedures (39.7%), surgical procedures for chronic conditions (34.9%), and surgical procedures for life threatening conditions (32.4%) privately to decrease wait times. Slightly more than one third of CARP members polled (36.6%) believe that Canadians should never be able to purchase medical procedures privately as that would undermine the universal healthcare system.

A significant majority of members (89.1%) would consider going to the United States for medical treatment, where less than half (41.9%) would consider going to countries other than the United States. When a Canadian goes to the United States for treatment, a clear majority of our members (70.1%) believe that the expenses should be tax deductible in Canada.

This poll was conducted by CARP online with 1,184 respondents across Canada from December 16, 2016 to January 7, 2017.