Canadians love to brag to Americans about their health care – but a new Maclean's cover story could make them think twice.

Ken MacQueen, Vancouver bureau chief of Maclean's, said he analyzed several international studies to compare health care systems among developed nations – and Canada ranked dead last in a number of categories.

"Our biggest Achilles Heal was definitely the wait time issue, that dragged us down considerably," MacQueen said.

In a 2007 government survey, 40 per cent of respondents reported waiting between one and three months for non-emergency surgery. About 18 per cent reported waiting even longer.

When it came to diagnostic services, 32 per cent reported waiting one to three months while about 10 per cent waited longer.

MacQueen said Canada was also found lacking in quality and effectiveness of care, but fared well in affordability and equity. "The U.S. finished last in both those categories," he said.

But he says Canada still may be coasting on a reputation for quality health care it no longer earns. Our system, which cost an estimated $192-billion in 2010, is "very sub standard" when put next to a number of similar mixed public-private systems in Europe, MacQueen said.

"Anyone who has had to endure a wait in an emergency ward will have already caught on," he said. "It might not cost them money to go in, but it could cost them the better part of a day."

The surveys will appear in a six-part series in Maclean's called "System Critical," beginning this month.

Have your say: Are you satisfied with Canada's health care system?