OTTAWA, Oct. 30, 2014 /CNW/ - Canadians should be careful to put the latest health care spending figures for Canada into proper perspective. The federally-funded Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) reported on Oct. 30 that growth in health spending is at a 17-year low.
This is not good news and I would strongly urge Canadians to look hard behind CIHI's headline numbers.
On CIHI's finding that the aging population is only increasing health care spending by 0.9 per cent a year, that is because many of the services that should be available to seniors just aren't. Long-term care (LTC) facilities aren't being built, adequate home and community support isn't being funded and hospitals are filled with older Canadians who should be elsewhere but have no place to go.
The Canadian Medical Association estimates more than $2 billion a year could be repurposed for spending elsewhere in health care if we stopped warehousing seniors in hospital beds while they wait for somewhere to go. CIHI does not take into account inefficient spending like this. Nor does it account for a serious deficit in LTC or home and community care.
CIHI says spending on seniors health care will only increase incrementally over the next 20 years. But CIHI's own figures also show per-capita health spending increases dramatically as people age. Per capita costs for the 65-69 age group were $6,368 in 2012 but rise to $8,545 for those 70 to 79, $11,692 for 75 to 79, and a staggering $21,054 for 80 and older.
Older Canadians account for 44 per cent of health care spending in Canada and the overwhelming majority of that is for chronic care. Canadians over 65 currently account for almost 15 per cent of the population and that group will almost double over 20 years.
An assessment earlier this year by the Commonwealth Fund on everything from the cost of health care to the quality care among 11 countries put Canada second from the bottom. In fact we are in a race for the bottom with the U.S. except that our health costs are still cheaper than the Americans'.
I would urge Canadians not to take CIHI's numbers out of context. Canadians should not be lulled into a false sense of security.
Dr. Chris Simpson
President, Canadian Medical Association
SOURCE: Canadian Medical Association
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