Canadians spend more on healthcare than people in most other countries. We are fifth in the OECD in terms of health spending per capita, and eighth out of 28 countries in terms of health spending as a percentage of GDP. Given these facts, it is appropriate to discuss the issue of value for money in healthcare. In their paper, McGrail et al. present four challenges to improving value for money in Canadian healthcare: a lack of analysis of the hospital sector; the need to learn from rate variation analysis; the slow uptake of the electronic health record (EHR); and the need to measure health outcomes. Our paper addresses each of these points, but also proposes that a broader outlook is needed to come to grips with this question. It is essential to go beyond supply-side cost control, and also take into account the needs of the patient. Moreover, we need to look beyond our borders to learn how other countries have been able to evolve universal publicly funded health systems without long waiting times.