The study from the University of Toronto and New York's Cornell University says U.S. doctors pay an average of nearly $83,000 each for administrative costs associated with insurance documents. In Canada, for doctors based in Ontario that cost is significantly less at just over $22,200.
In addition, nurses, medical assistants and other hospital staff in the U.S. dedicate nearly 21 hours per week to filing insurance papers and other duties required to push insurance claims through. For the same duties in Ontario, just 2.5 hours are spent each week.
The findings of the study, published in the August edition of the journal Health Affairs, show that the "single payer" health-insurance system in Canada is largely responsible for the difference between countries.
It said the need for many U.S. patients to carry coverage from multiple insurance providers leads to the more demanding time commitments to file the appropriate documents.
Dr. Dante Morra, the study's lead author, said the time savings felt in Canada go back to help the people who need it most.
"When we look at health care in Canada . . . there's a lot of areas for improvement, but at the end of the day, sometimes we have to sit back and realize there is good access to care for Canadians," said Morra, a Toronto doctor.
"There are a lot of benefits to the way we have structured our system and one of those benefits is this almost nonexistent cost associated with dealing with payment. That time is directly invested into caring for patients."