National Health Care today Canada


Spending on health care to reach $5,170 per Canadian in 2008

November 13, 2008—Canada’s health care spending is expected to reach $171.9 billion in 2008, or $5,170 per person, according to new figures released today by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI). This represents an increase of $10.3 billion over estimated expenditures for 2007, or a growth of 6.4%. These figures are featured in National Health Expenditure Trends, 1975 to 2008, Canada’s most comprehensive source of information tracking how dollars are spent on health care in this country.

When looking at health care spending as a proportion of Canada’s overall economy, health expenditure is expected to reach 10.7% of the gross domestic product (GDP), the highest share ever recorded. This rate has climbed gradually, from 10.0% in 2002, to an estimated 10.6% last year.

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).

Spending on health varies from province to province


1. Alberta and Manitoba, at $5,730 and $5,555, respectively

2. Quebec ($4,653)

3. British Columbia ($5,093) [1]

Seismic shift in cancer drug funding to private payers

The Cancer Advocacy Coalition of Canada reveals steady shifting of cancer drug costs from public to private insurers, leaving employers and individuals to shoulder the increasing burden of cost.

“Expenditures for oral, take-at-home therapies now represent approximately half of the total for all cancer drugs,” says Dr. Kong Khoo, a B.C. medical oncologist and lead author of the study. “Employers and insurers should be made aware of the magnitude and pace of these shifts.”

Private insurance plays a critically important role in assuring access to medically necessary prescription drugs. The CAC says the bigger issue is that a reasonable 20% co-pay on a $60 average drug becomes unaffordable when the drug costs $25,000 or more and suggests that pooling high cost drug claims — often catastrophic to patients and their families — is an idea whose time is long overdue.[2]

Private Health Insurers’ Roles To Expand As National Healthcare Costs Soar, Projects PricewaterhouseCoopers

31 October 2006 – Governments around the world are looking to expand the role of private insurers as a source of funding the delivery of healthcare, according to a new report issued today by PricewaterhouseCoopers. The report entitled “Healthy Choices: The Changing Role of the Health Insurer,” forecasts that the threat to governments’ fiscal objectives from rising public sector health expenditures will drive the expansion of private sector contributions, and this trend will reshape the health insurance business model globally. Risk sharing will grow as consumers pay more of the cost of their care and efforts to control health costs focus on the reduction of frivolous healthcare claims and over-usage.[3]

Critical Illness Private Insurance in Canada

TORONTO, March 4 2009 – 61 per cent of Canadians admit they have no plan ready in the event they are diagnosed with a critical illness, reveals a recent survey of more than 1,600 Canadians by Ottawa-based polling firm, Redfern Research. Many are concerned about the time it takes to see a specialist, and then get the necessary tests done. And a growing number see the need for critical illness insurance to cover costs the healthcare system doesn’t cover. Bottom line, Canadians believe their healthcare system will be there for them if they do become critically ill – but many feel under protected. [4]

Private sector health care spending continues to increase while access to non-emergency surgery has improved in recent years, according to the Canadian Institute for Health Information’s Health Care in Canada 2008 report. Total private-sector health care spending – which includes payments by health insurance providers as well as individual Canadians’ out-of-pocket expenses – was an estimated $47 billion in 2007, up 5.7% from $45 billion in 2006. [5]

While health care spending is on the rise, it appears that wait times for elective surgery are down slightly. In 2007, 32% of Canadians reported waiting less than a month for elective surgery, compared with 15% in 2005, according to a Commonwealth Fund international survey cited in the CIHI report. [6]

Small drop in median wait times for surgery

The median wait time for Canadians seeking surgical or other therapeutic treatment dropped to 17.3 weeks in 2008 from 18.3 weeks in 2007, according to new research recently published by The Fraser Institute.

This year’s report shows the main decrease in wait times occurred in the time between a referral from a general practitioner and consultation with a specialist, which decreased to 8.5 weeks from 9.2 weeks. [7]

This nationwide improvement in access reflects waiting-time decreases in 7 provinces, while concealing increases in waiting times in Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland & Labrador.

Waiting for diagnostic and therapeutic technology

The waits to see a specialist and to receive treatment were not the only delays facing patients in 2008. Patients also experienced significant waiting times for various diagnostic technologies across Canada: computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and ultrasound scans. The median wait for a CT scan across Canada rose slightly to 4.9 weeks from 4.8 weeks in 2007. Alberta and Ontario had the shortest wait for computed tomography (4.0 weeks), while the longest wait occurred in Prince Edward Island (19.0 weeks). The median wait for an MRI across Canada fell to 9.7 weeks from 10.1 weeks in 2007.

In 2000-01, Statistics Canada data showed that an estimated 4.3 million Canadians had difficulties obtaining routine care, health information or advice, immediate care for minor health issues, and other first contact services, and approximately 1.4 million Canadians had difficulties gaining access to specialist visits, non-emergency surgery, and selected diagnostic tests (Sanmartin et al., 2002).

Twenty percent of those who waited for the latter three specialized services indicated that the wait affected their lives; most of these people experienced “worry, stress, and anxiety, pain, or diminished health as a result of waiting” (Sanmartin et al., 2002).

Over 20 percent of the 1.4 million also indicated that their waiting time was unacceptable (Sanmartin et al., 2002). Polls regularly show that Canadians are concerned about wait times and the general state of the health care system.[8]

We’re finally getting an MRI scanner, but it’s only a base unit Upgrades are essential

It’s about time!” says Chief of Neurosurgery Dr. Brian Hunt. “Lions Gate Hospital has been performing neurosurgery since the 1960s, yet unbelievably we are one of the only neurosurgical units in North
America that doesn’t have an MRI scanner.” [9]

Interactive webpage map for health care costs of each Province:


The provinces and territories also provide some groups with supplementary health benefits not covered by the Act, such as prescription drug coverage. The level and scope of coverage for supplementary benefits varies between jurisdictions.[10]

Access to Insurance Coverage for Prescription Medicines

Under the Canada Health Act, all necessary drug therapy administered within a Canadian hospital setting is insured and publicly funded. Outside of the hospital setting, provincial and territorial governments are responsible for the administration of their own publicly-funded prescription drug benefit programs.

Most Canadians have access to insurance coverage for prescription medicines through public and/or private insurance plans. The federal, provincial and territorial governments offer varying levels of coverage, with different eligibility requirements, premiums and deductibles.

The publicly-funded drug programs generally provide insurance coverage for those most in need, based on age, income, and medical condition.[11]

[1] http://secure.cihi.ca/cihiweb/dispPage.jsp?cw_page=media_13nov2008_e Spending on health care to reach $5,170 per Canadian in 2008

[5] http://secure.cihi.ca/cihiweb/dispPage.jsp?cw_page=media_13nov2008_e Spending on health care to reach $5,170 per Canadian in 2008