By Jane Stevenson , Toronto Sun
TORONTO – Health-care costs for the average Canadian family have increased by nearly 70% during the last two decades, a new Fraser Institute report says.
The study, which used data from Statistics Canada and the Canadian Institute for Health Information, says the typical Canadian family of four will pay $12,057 for health care in 2017.
Meanwhile, the average single Canadian will pay $4,596 — almost a 100% increase during the same 20-year period, from 1997 to 2017.
The Toronto Sun asked co-author Bacchus Barua, a senior economist at the Fraser Institute, about his report, The Price of Public Health Care Insurance, 2017, which was released Tuesday:
Why was it important to explore this topic?
“One of the most remarkable things about Canada’s health-care system is that nobody actually seems to know how much they pay for it. Quite often in conversation, sometimes people refer to it as a free health-care system. I think there are some people who might think that there’s just a few tax dollars here and there. In provinces that still have premiums, a lot of people tend to think that the premiums are the full cost of the health-care system. But in fact none of that is actually the true cost of health care. We pay a lot for our health-care system but through a variety of taxes through the general tax system.”
Do Canadians get good value for their money?
“We have some of the longest wait times for treatment in the developed world. Another project we’ve been doing every year is simply measuring wait times for health care in Canada. So in 1993, when we first put out the survey measuring wait times, we measured it about 9.3 weeks between referral to treatment and last year we measured it at 20 weeks between referral to treatment which is a clear deterioration in the wait times. Physicians are telling us that their patients are waiting longer than what they consider to be clinically reasonable.”
Do you think this trend of health care costs going up will continue as the boomer generation ages?
“We can sort of see that aging will continue to play a part in the rising costs or at least rising pressures when it comes to health care in the future. It’s something that will happen one year at a time. It’s not going to suddenly happen overnight. And a lot of people point that out. It’s something that we still need to prepare for because it’s not something that we can change. We can’t simply snap our fingers and change what our demographic profile is going to look like.”
Are Canadians paying more or less than people in other countries?
“In general Canada is usually among the top spenders, if we’re looking at a group of (35 member) countries, like the OECD (The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development), which is generally comparable. In general, we are among the top spenders. Depending on the measure that you look at, we can be ranked between three to nine.”
Canadian Medicare does not give timely access to healthcare, it only gives access to a waiting list.
–Canadian Supreme Court Decision 2005 SCC 35,  1 S.C.R. 791