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> For 2014, total health spending in Canada is expected to be 214.9 billion dollars or $6,045 per capita and will only grow 2.1 percent compared to average annual increases of 7 percent over the period 2000 to 2010 (See Figure 1). Public sector health spending accounts for about 70.5 percent of this spending.

This is a bit confusing, since Figure 2 seems to use a net, "total" figure as "percentage of budget." If 30% of health spending is private, then I'd expect Ontario's figure to be closer to $4,000/per rather than the $5,894 listed.

Either the $6,045 figure is only public spending, or there's some hidden math to get "percentage of budget" not otherwise reflected in the provincial figures.

The $5894 is total health spending for Ontario. Of this, about 70 percent is public. The provincial government per capita amount for Ontario is $3768. Ontario has a lower public share than the national average.

Livio: "Population aging remains a modest driver of increasing health care costs as the share of public sector health spending on seniors has only grown from 45.2 to 44.6 percent between 2002 and 2012."


> The provincial government per capita amount for Ontario is $3768. Ontario has a lower public share than the national average.

And that's what is reflected in the "41% of budget" figure, I take it?

Nick: Thanks. Correction made.

The 41% of budget I believe refers to the proportion of the provincial government budget that is devoted to health spending. Given that the per capita figure is for total health spending, I think the Figure is a bit confusing. The fine print at the bottom of the figure does say that total health spending is for both public and private health spending.

Livio - in the Globe article in which you were quoted yesterday, ""Government health care spending, and how much seniors account for"", no where did the article provide the empirical info you provided in this post:

""the share of public sector health spending on seniors has only grown from 44.6 to 45.2 percent between 2002 and 2012"".

Indeed, the article provided the following quote:

So far, the aging of Canada’s population has been gradual, allowing the health-care system time to adjust. “It’s popular in the media to be really worried about the grey tsunami,” said Colleen Flood, a University of Ottawa law professor who specializes in health policy, “but it’s not like this massive spike that hits the system at any one time.”

I was puzzled by both the article and the quote for it seemed to suggest that seniors do not account for a significant share of health care spending.

Yet, Stats Can states http://www12.statcan.ca/census-recensement/2011/as-sa/98-311-x/98-311-x2011001-eng.cfm, ""Seniors accounted for a record high of 14.8% of the population in Canada in 2011, up from 13.7% five years earlier""

So if understand correctly, 14.8% of the population accounts for 45.2% of total health care expenditures.

And if I recall, Dodge in Chronic Healthcare Spending Disease http://www.cdhowe.org/pdf/Commentary_327.pdf, provided estimates that seniors will rise to 20% of total Canadian population.

To my admittedly simple mind, this suggests that the grey tsunami has already arrived - if about 15% of pop accounts for almost half of spending?

No? Or are there some mitigating stats that I have missed?


Much of this seems to basically confirm my feeling on health spending, that the availability of government funding is a more telling indicator of where spending will go than anything on the demand side. On that note, I'd be willing to predict that those provinces getting hit by the move to per capita cash transfers will be bending that curve more diligently than those that benefit, whatever the differences in demand pressures are (and they are probably the ones where the grey tsunami is coming in hardest).

Looking at the differences in per capita spending, I'm also wondering what the basis for those differences is, or rather how this supports the various arguments that are out there about that. One thing it looks like to me is that economies of scale might be a factor.

Seniors account for a very large share of current health spending - as you have noted - and have done so for quite a long time. Spending rises with age but the growth in that expenditure share has been modest to date.

Livio - thanks.

I was just surprised that an article titled explicitly, ""Government health care spending, and how much seniors account for" - did not in fact, tell us how much health care spending seniors account for - contra the title.

And contra the tone of the article, the share of seniors will increase - whether slowly or quickly is a red herring to the central issue - as the share of seniors in the population increases, likely passing 50%.

This in turn suggests the need for greater attention to this issue.

I enjoyed your post. Thanks

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