Annual family price tag for health care is $11,400: Study 0
(QMI Agency, file)
OTTAWA - The average Canadian family of four shelled out more than $11,400 last year in taxes to cover the cost of public health care, according to a new report by the Fraser Institute.
"The way we pay for health care disguises exactly how much public health care insurance costs in Canada," said Nadeem Esmail a senior fellow with the right-leaning think-tank who co-authored the report.
"We talk in numbers that are difficult to digest. It's really hard for Canadians to grasp what these numbers mean to them on a personal level."
Esmail hopes by highlighting the per-family price tag in the report published Thursday, he'll spur them to demand a more effective and efficient system.
He also raised concerns about the rapidly increasing cost of public health insurance, noting that over the past decade the average Canadian family saw the cost of health care increase more than twice as much as the cost of shelter did during the same time period, some four times as much as food costs rose and more than five times as much as clothing - and the system ranked among the most costly in the developed world.
Esmail said public health care is something Canadians are willing to drop money on, but noted: "We either now have to deal with the health care spending growth issue by reforming health care appropriately and making more efficient use of health-care dollars, or we need to accept we're going to continue giving up other public services as health care crowds them out."
Still, while Canadians may feel some sticker shock at the Fraser Institute's numbers, countries such as Norway and Switzerland do spend more per capita and in terms of percentage of GDP on health. And the United States far outstrips Canada in per-capita cost and portion of GDP spending.
Avik Roy, a senior fellow with the Manhattan Institute, a New York-based policy research institute, estimated the average American family will pay around $16,000 for health insurance each year, but noted the U.S. had a complex overlap of private and public spending. He also cautioned it's important to look at quality, access and efficiency as well as the dollar figure when it comes to health care spending.
"The quality of the health care system is defined by: if you get sick, do you get treated? If you get cancer, how long do you live? Those are the kind of things that tell you whether the health-care system is functioning," he said, noting both Canada and the U.S. tend to do well when it comes to things such as cancer survival rates.
According to figures provided by the Canadian Institute for Health Information, total spending on health care in Canada was roughly $200 billion last year. In 2010, health spending accounted for 11.4% of GDP.