Blogs & Comment

High health care spending, mediocre outcomes

A new report shows that Canadians aren't getting what we pay for.

The only thing more infuriating that forking over a wad of cash is not getting much in return. Which explains the frustration that will likely be triggered by a recent report on the how much Canadians are (or, more accurately, are not) getting from our high health-care expenditure.

According to the Conference Board of Canada, despite spending a whopping 10% of GDP on health care in 2008 (more than $4,000 per person), results in Canada trail countries like Australia and Sweden, which spend less. As David Stewart-Patterson, the board’s vice president of public policy noted upon release of the report, “Canada has relatively high overall spending and middle-of-the-pack health outcomes.”

Of course, Canada is hardly the worst of the bunch—a title that not surprisingly goes to the U.S. South of the border, per capita health care expenditure reached $7,500 in 2008—exceeding Norway, the second-highest spender, by more than 50%. By contrast, the big winner was Japan, where per capital health care spending was the lowest ($2,729), but life expectancy was the highest, and infant mortality the second lowest.

All of which only strengthens the case for increasing the efficiency of our health care system. And as we argued in our story on why health care is the worst managed industry in Canada, there sure is no shortage of ways to do it.