Last WCI post, I used the OECD 2012 Health Data spending statistics to examine the growth of total health care spending. The question I want to look at this time is what does increased spending yield a health care system in terms of the health care resources available? While we are concerned with the cost and sustainability of a health care system, the fact is that in some sense you should also get what you pay for. If you are spending more, over time is this associated with more doctors, nurses, equipment, etc…? Moreover, based on our international ranking in terms of health spending, how does Canada rank on these resources?
Canada is the seventh biggest spender in per capita terms amongst these 34 OECD countries but when it comes to physicians per capita, it ranks 26th. Are we possibly substituting nurses for physicians and rank more highly there? Not likely as in that category, we rank 25th. Norway is the second biggest spender per capita after the United States and ranks 3rd for physicians per capita and 6th for nurses per capita. We also rank 25th in the number of total hospital beds per capita, 21st for CT scanners and 20th for MRI units. While we are in the top ten per capita spenders, we are never in the top ten for any of these five health care resource indicators. This seems to be a pretty simple comment as to how efficient of health care in Canada is. The United States spends the most per capita and also do not appear to be that efficient when it comes to health resources as they rank 28th in the number of physicians per capita and 28th in the number of hospital beds per capita. On the other hand, they are 10th with respect to nurses per capita, 3rd with respect to CT scanners and 2nd with respect to MRIs. Based on these figures, we consistently spend more but get less health care resources for our money. Naturally, we also need to look at health outcomes. More to come in another post.