Which is better for your health?
Health insurance is one of the main reasons why Canadians are so unhappy with their health care system, but many experts say the country is not the only place in the world where the same thing is happening.
“If you look at some of the other countries that are experiencing the same issue as Canada, they are also experiencing an aging population,” said Chris Wood, a health economist with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, which advocates for universal health care.
The number of people 65 and over has increased from about 2.5 million in 2006 to more than 6 million today, according to Statistics Canada.
And the number of Canadians living in the most affluent parts of the country — Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver — is growing rapidly, Wood said.
Health insurance premiums are expected to increase by more than 50 per cent for people aged 65 and older, according, to a recent survey from Mercer, a global market research firm.
In Alberta, premiums for private health insurance will rise by more on average than the province’s population, according a recent report from the Canadian Association of Medical Students.
While the numbers are rising, the costs have not risen much because of the high cost of medical care and the cost of long-term care, said David Buss, a professor of economics at York University.
“The premiums for a private health care plan in the United States are about $20,000 per year, and in Alberta, they’re about $100,000, according for the lowest of the lowest priced plans in the province,” he said.
Buss said the average age of people purchasing insurance is increasing at the same rate as the number.
That means more Canadians will be paying more for health care, and people in the middle of the income spectrum will pay more, too.
“This is not going to go away.
The cost of healthcare in the next five to 10 years is going to be much higher than what we’re seeing now,” said Buss.
A growing number of experts say there are other factors at play, too, including rising costs in the workplace, rising housing costs, and rising cost of living.
The average household in Canada spends $5,800 on health care a year, according the Canadian Medical Association.
While that’s less than the $8,300 that many people spend on food, Buss believes it’s worth noting that those costs aren’t necessarily tied to a specific health care service, like seeing a doctor or being treated in a hospital.
“I think there’s some overlap between that and other things that you see in health care,” he told CBC News.
“So it’s not necessarily an issue of health care.”
Health care costs Canada is spending $2.7 trillion on health-care programs, including more than $2,500 per person per year for health-insurance premiums.
The federal government has set a target of reducing spending by 15 per cent a year by 2022, and that will need to be met, said Wood.
He added that health care spending in the U.S. has risen much faster than Canada, even though the number is expected to rise much more.
Health care spending has increased significantly in the last decade, Wood pointed out.
“We are spending more on health insurance than any other country in the developed world, and it is an increase that has not been matched in the advanced world,” he added.
“And that has led to a growing disparity in health outcomes.”
Wood noted that while some experts think Canada’s aging population is a contributing factor to the growing gap between rich and poor, they say it’s hard to say if the gap is sustainable.
“You could argue that if we’re going to continue to grow the gap, we’ve got to do a better job of making sure we’re delivering a better health-service delivery system for everyone,” he explained.
“That’s not going away, and there are lots of other factors that need to change.”
For the average Canadian, Wood added, health insurance costs will increase.
But the increases will not be nearly as dramatic as the ones we see in other countries, which he believes could be good news for people.
Health Care Reforms Health reform proposals are expected in the spring and some are expected that will include allowing people to buy health insurance from an exchange, which could reduce premiums.
A few reforms are also expected, such as reducing the amount of money people pay to cover out-of-pocket expenses and making it easier for people to choose which doctor they want to see.
“People have the option of going to their doctor if they need to,” Wood said of health insurance.
“But the issue is, they have to make that choice.
And it is really difficult for them to do that in the current system.”
Health plans could also be made to offer cheaper, lower-deductible plans.
“There’s a lot of things that could happen in the health insurance market in the coming year,” Wood added.
Healthcare costs have risen dramatically in the past five years, according as Wood points out. It