The high cost of free health care in Canada
Canada is admired around the globe for its free health care system.
But is it really free?
According to a new report from the Fraser Institute, a Canadian family of two parents and two children will pay on average $11,320 in taxes for public health care insurance in 2013.
"And that cost rose 1.5 times faster than the average income over the past decade."
Since 2003, the cost of health care for all family types increased 53.3 per cent before inflation. And the price of public health insurance increased more than 1.5 times faster than the cost of shelter and clothing, more than twice as fast as the cost of food, and nearly 1.5 times faster than the average income over the past decade, according to the report.
The report calculates the amount of taxes Canadian families will pay to all levels of government in a year and the share of their total tax bill earmarked for public health insurance.
It notes that 10 per cent of Canadian families with the lowest incomes (averaging $13,011) will pay on average about $482 this year for public health care insurance; 10 per cent of families earning an average income of $56,596 will pay $5,364; while families among the top 10 per cent of income earners will pay about $35,309.
Thinking of all that tax money just about makes me sick. Good thing I have free health care in Canada.
By Donna Donaldson, MSN Money
Does Canada's health care system work efficiently considering the amount of money we invest in it?
Posted by: KAREN VANMACKELBERG | Jul 30, 2021 12:34:47 PM
and i will gladly pay my fair share as long as it is available to EVERYONE here -- not just those that can afford it -- because health care is not for the rich -- like it is in the US -- proud to be CANADIAN!!
Posted by: Jewels | Jul 30, 2021 4:03:22 PM
Compared to the US we spend less money per person in healthcare costs every year. Of course it isn't free but overall we still spend less than an individually focused approach. For that less money we also ensure that everyone, not just the rich gets healthcare and having unexpected health problems will not destroy you financially like it can in the US. So less cost + more equality = better. Proud to be Canadian :)
Posted by: DGR | Jul 30, 2021 4:05:12 PM
Considering high wait times and high cost ($35,309 per year) it is no wonder that the rich want to opt our of Canada's Health care system, especially if they are healthy! Anything the Government gets involved in is both ineffecient and has a huge price tag. You want anything done poorly and costly have the Government do it. :)
Posted by: Nick McNaught | Jul 30, 2021 4:05:48 PM
And it is worth every cent. Canada's health care ROCKS!
Posted by: Mark Barclay | Jul 30, 2021 4:08:08 PM
This article is misleading The poor in Cnada pay no health care premiums at a al while those who earn over 80,000 pay additional amounts but not on a sliding scale. There is no deductatble and patients may change doctors. Us health care cannot boost any of theese perks and is still out of reach for many.
Posted by: HGC | Jul 30, 2021 4:14:04 PM
I'm with DGR. There have been several studies, conducted by independent bodies, as well as by 'official' institutes (e.g., WHO, UNESCO and another one whose acronym escapes me at the moment), which examined the health care systems of 14 Western, developed countries. Canada's health care system ranked as least timely, second least effective and most costly. In an analysis of these studies, the USA ranked as second most timely, most effective and second most costly. Other countries among those studied included countries which have public health care systems, such as France, Sweden, Denmark, etc.. Why Canadians must always hold up the American system as a reason to continue barreling down the path of unsustainable, inefficient health care that we are on? That's a cop out that reflects a limited understanding of the issue and the options available around the world. It is time for us to insist on looking at how other countries which provide more timely and more effectively health care do so for far less than what we pay for our health care and to start incorporating some of those approaches in our health care system. Time to stop throwing good money after bad!
Posted by: Michelle | Jul 30, 2021 4:14:17 PM
Who is the doofus who said Health Care in Canada is free; that's as ridiculous as saying the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are free because we don't pay directly out of pocket for them. It's taxation and of course, we pay for it. But for the price we pay, we get wider coverage and better population based healthcare outcomes and at a lower cost than the US. The Canadian healthcare system is good public policy; anyone who lives in Canada and pays taxes knows that.
Posted by: George Cutler | Jul 30, 2021 4:16:01 PM
This article is misleading. Our health care costs are rising because the percentage the province takes from having 2 public education systems is biting into health care. The province is suffering because of the Roman Catholic School System in Ontario its ridiculous and completely unnecessary. It is robbing money from our Health Care System which is much more important than religious education for a small minority at the expense of affordable health care for the majority. When will it end? When will Ontario wake up and clean up the corrupt Catholic Minority running our Province into the ground with its greedy ways?
Posted by: DRM | Jul 30, 2021 4:19:34 PM
A couple of years ago my sister was diagnosed with a brain tumor. After several operations the only chance was a special radiation treatment which was available in the US. The cost of this treatment? 500,000.00 dollars. There is no way we could have afforded this. Thanks to health insurance my sister is alive today. Health care sucks until you really need it
Posted by: Murray Camp | Jul 30, 2021 4:20:59 PM
Consider the source!
Posted by: NDA | Jul 30, 2021 4:21:47 PM
I think we as Canadians can take it for granted how lucky we are to have our health care taken care of, even if it is covered by taxes. As much as the system might not be perfect, I feel it is still better than the alternatives. I don't know how others may feel about this but I do get apprehensive that there will come a time when health care is not available to all equally.
Posted by: AJMW | Jul 30, 2021 4:21:55 PM
I agree Karen!! I am proud to be a Canadian and proud that we have universal health care , pensions, etc. The US has been trying for years to bring in health care. I remember years ago when Ted Kennedy came to Canada & was looking into how the US could bring in a health care system for all. Unfortunately it has taken until now for some type of health insurance to be instituted in the US. Eventually when all the problems are ironed out in the US, people will hopefully be thankful for "Obama care". I know of too many families in the US that have lost everything because of an illness in the family! Health care is necessary & taxes will always be with us, so yes we do pay for health care insurance. At least Canadians know that if they are ill they will be cared for & not lose their homes or vehicles because of illness!
Posted by: Janine Ransom | Jul 30, 2021 4:23:06 PM
This article insinuates that some Canadians could save money if we went to a private system. Even if we went to private health care there is no way the Government would stop charging us the tax money. We would have to pay the same taxes we pay now and pay for health care and many couldn't afford it.
If the Government stopped pooling money and put the taxes collected for each service where it belongs things would run more smoothly.
Posted by: dee gee | Jul 30, 2021 4:25:27 PM
The Canadian system may be flawed, but it beats the USA's. Any changes to the Canadian system must require a national vote or leave it alone. Funny how costs are rising when so many of the peripheral services are in fact in the 'for profit' area like physio, biotlogical testing (Blood work etc.) and x-rays. Just how much 'profit' are these companies making?
Posted by: E Black | Jul 30, 2021 4:26:13 PM
Why are Americans so afraid of Canadian Health Care because they can't see helping one another without a profit. We never said health care was free ; any idiot knows it costs money. However you don't have to pay at the hospital and people aren't denied treatment because they are poor. How many times have you heard of someone losing everything in the United States because they have a sick child, not right but that's your life style and it shows the rest of the World what is important to you, Carrying guns and Health Care for the rich,( they are more deserving than the poor working person anyway) .
Posted by: David | Jul 30, 2021 4:27:05 PM
I read the opposite Canadian healthcare is at par or better than American healthcare in some cases...
in the end to me it really dosent matter... even if our health care were to be crap...
id rather I get the same crappy healthcare as a poor person
rather then top notch healthcare because I have the money to buy it...
how can you live with yourself thinking that way
Posted by: Ashley | Jul 30, 2021 4:33:37 PM
I love our system. I love that nobody can be turned down. Even if you have a list of medical conditions you are still covered by provincial health coverage. I love Canada and am very proud to call it my home.
Posted by: Robin | Jul 30, 2021 4:38:54 PM
I was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes at 9 years old. Today I am a healthy, active, working, 49-year-old mother and wife thanks greatly in part to our Canadian healthcare system. I would not have been able to live a "normal" healthy and happy life without proper healthcare. I do not understand any person... with any heart... who would condemn a person to a life of poverty or sickness simply because of financial status. We all deserve to live life to the fullest regardless of the hands we've been dealt. It is true. Until we need it, most don't give a damn about those who do. Perhaps one day, those who don't, will have a loved one, child, parent who do need a system like the one Canada provides. I am very grateful for where I was born and the care I've been given. Honestly, I don't think people realize how fortunate they are.
Posted by: Paul Winkler | Jul 30, 2021 4:42:54 PM
What do you expect the Fraser Institute to say? Good grief, it's a Conservative think tank, of *course* it's going to claim publicly-funded programmes are inefficient. What a crock this article is!
Posted by: Jeff | Jul 30, 2021 4:45:38 PM
The comments from DGR show a lack of knowledge regarding the health care systems in Canada and the US. True, in the US a rich person can "jump the line" and get quicker health care services but of course they have to be paid for at a cost a lot more than they pay yearly in taxes. Although wait times are shorter on average they can be a lot longer for those who cannot afford to pay for additional medical coverage offered through the various health insurance companies operating in the US.
So let us look at costs, in 2009 according to one report I read the US Government spent, per capita, $3,795 per person on health care. This money of course comes from tax dollars. Using the family of 4 as in the example above this means that, 4 years ago, the average cost of health care would have been $15,180, and I can only assume that the cost has increased since then. This is for the most basic of coverage offered and with a corresponding increase in wait times up to 4 times greater than in Canada in some areas for those that cannot afford additional coverage. In order to take advantage of shorter wait times additional coverage, at a significant cost, must be purchased. I am not familiar with current costs but a number of years ago a couple were paying an additional $5,800 per year and they considered that a good deal.
This report makes me think of a Fraser Institute Report I read a number of years ago which gave cost per person coverage in Canada and intimated that the US system was more efficient or at least less costly to the taxpayer. US government spending on a per capita basis, according to available US government figures, showed even then that the per capita cost was higher than in Canada. After researching that I tend to disregard reports by this agency since the facts in this report did not support the statements made in it.
Posted by: Halley | Jul 30, 2021 4:46:46 PM
I'm pleased to generally gather from everyone's responses that Canadians are generally willing to support our health care system. It is a national treasure that is continually jeopardized by private interests acting through right-wing think tanks with lop-sided studies that promote an agenda that most regular people should be concerned about. Not to say we shouldn't scrutinize the **** out of our slightly troubled system to make it run efficiently but we need to make sure we don't let people make excuses to rid ourselves of it entirely. I think one can apply sound practices that are used in private business ventures to run things smoothly in a public setting without profit being the driving force (i.e. profit does not equate to efficiency necessarily)
Posted by: JRDG | Jul 30, 2021 4:47:58 PM
I am now exposed to the Chilean health care system, which operates a public system universal for all and a private system at an additional monthly premium payed by subscription. The private system here costs what I had to pay for my previous company's health care plan. And it far surpasses anything I have seen in Canada. Universal health care is great, but it is so limited, and we as Canadians have come to accept that and to laud the system that is not operating as it could. Our doctors in Canada do a wonderful job, yet they are restricted by what they can offer, and when they can offer it. No system is a panacea, and I think that the private system is not an evil that must be shunned for the betterment of mankind. At this point, we all should just accept what we have. Because if we do not, we would do something to change it. And what would that say about Canada and Canadians. I shudder to think of the possibilities.
Posted by: longbow | Jul 30, 2021 4:50:16 PM
Where do you fit into the system. A rich person or an average wage earner.
Either way if you ever get sick you will be treated and covered. No disputes with your insurance carrier. You won't be cut off and insurance cancelled because you got sick.
No it works well. I know. Thank you to who ever came up with the idea. I believe Tommy Douglas in Saskatchewan. And I don't vote NDP.
I also believe that under the new laws in the US you can't be turned down at emergency any longer. not 100% sure about that.
Posted by: S de Koning | Jul 30, 2021 4:56:47 PM
FREE my lilly white behind! Here in B.C. we pay MSP monthly, it is not included in our already overblown taxes. I pay over $55.00/mo on basic medical insurance for a single person alone. We're short on doctors, so even when I need to see one, I can't always get in. Should you need emergency, you could wait over 8 hours to be seen. This is what our "free" medical is.
Posted by: asd | Jul 30, 2021 4:58:15 PM
I never considered the health care in Canada as "free". I believe health care is a human right and hence, every person should have access to. However, I am sure the public heatlth system is costly and should be ways of trimming down the costs without affecting the quality or the patients.
Posted by: John | Jul 30, 2021 5:05:23 PM
Even if you privatize the health care tax is not going to go down so still it is worth to pay shared cost. And compared to US it is much cheaper.
Posted by: David | Jul 30, 2021 5:18:07 PM
stop complaining, you like the US system so much, feel free to move there.
better yet buy travel insurance for a 1 week trip to the USA and find out how much that cost
god forbid you have a existing condition
Posted by: Jeff | Jul 30, 2021 5:33:04 PM
Just a comment to S de Koning, I also reside in BC and pay the same each month that you do. But this a lot less than either of us would pay for the equivalent medical coverage in the US so, to me, it is still a great deal.
When I went into emergency with a condition that seemed serious my wait time was measured in minutes, when not so serious yes, I had to wait (I think 4 hours was the longest) however that is something I am willing to do. Oh, and I guess I should be glad I have the doctors (yes, doctors as they share clients) that I have as in an emergency I was able to get in an hour after I called.
There is no such thing as any free service, they are all paid for out of our tax dollars or out of our pocket. And one thing more, Canadian health costs are a lot less than the equivalent US costs.
Posted by: Canuck in Dallas | Jul 30, 2021 5:33:28 PM
I find it rather interesting ............ I live in the Dallas area but am a Canadian through and through .... yes around here you can't swing a dead cat without hitting a hospital or "doc in the box' around here so yes you get pretty immediate care but there are 2 things to consider. Firstly, Dallas at present is still booming in a matter of speaking as jobs are still coming in albeit quite often for a minimum wage of $7.25/hr. to get health insurance through your job you are looking at about $250 for a single individual and at least twice that for a family and you haven't even seen a doctor yet ($25 per visit usually) ... let us also look at the cost .... even with health insurance - emergency room visit can cost $100 to $200, "doc in the box" (after hour or emergency clinic) anywhere from $50 to $100 and specialist visits can vary from $35 on up. Now hospitalization out of pocket costs may add up to $5000 per year with insurance per person - I know of a young couple whose husband worked at a hospital and ended up requiring treatment for a neurological issue and less than a year later they had a child - at present and for at least 2 years now they have been paying off the bill at $400 a month with a few more years to go - and yes it accrues some interest. The doctors in the hospital charge separately - and lo and behold when you have surgery , the cost of the anesthesiologist is not included and is also a separate charge. Now if you live in a less prosperous area, you do not have the access to medical care that you may have in other areas. I have talked to many here who have benefited from the medical care down here but have also talked to many that have gone bankrupt, or are so far in debt that they cannot see a way out. I have talked to others who no longer qualify for health insurance due to previous health issues (something that has changed with Obamacare) but even that is a joke as they have legislated that everyone must pay for some form of health insurance or be fined - except CONGRESS - they are exempt. Trust me, neither system is perfect but I do know that I have always gotten very good care in Canada and luckily here as well, but with the direction it is going, many fear that health care here will nosedive quite quickly.
Posted by: Joe | Jul 30, 2021 5:48:10 PM
This article is ridiculous. Of course we know we pay for our healthcare with our taxes and the more you make the more taxes you pay. What is your point? That the rich should opt out of paying their taxes because they don't use that much healthcare. The system is set up so everyone has healthcare not just the rich. It's not a perfect system but at least people aren't dying because they can't afford to go to the hospital. I for one will gladly pay my taxes so everyone enjoys healthcare.