Thursday, November 13, 2008

Canada's Growing Health Care Costs

The CIHI reports that spending on health care in Canada will reach $5,170 per Canadian in 2008. This figure represents 10.7% of the Canadian GDP, the highest share ever recorded. This topic raises many important and interesting issues that, unfortunately, few politicians ever bring up let alone intelligently debate. For example, the balance between public- and private-sector spending and spending on people in different life-stages. Here is a sample from the press release:

Since 1997, the public- and private-sector shares of total health expenditure have remained relatively stable, with governments accounting for 70% of total spending and the private sector (including privately insured and out-of-pocket expenses) for 30%. In 2008, public-sector health care spending is expected to reach $120.3 billion (70.0% of total spending), compared to $51.6 billion spent by the private sector (30.0% of total spending).

Prescribed drugs and dental care account for the largest shares of private health care spending, while hospitals and physicians represent the largest shares for the public sector.

....In 2006, the latest year available for age-specific data, per capita health care spending by provincial and territorial governments was highest for infants younger than 1 ($7,891) and people 65 and older ($9,967). In contrast, health care spending on Canadians between the ages of 1 and 64 averaged $1,832 per person.

Among seniors, there was also great variation. For those age 65 to 69, the average per capita spending was $5,369 in 2006. For those age 85 to 89, per person spending reached an average of $21,209.

This last point adds further weight to the importance of retarding human aging. Keeping people healthier longer would not only benefit aged persons, it would also benefit other people who rely on health care services and other social programs. So everyone would be better off living in a society with decelerated aging.