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August 26, 2021

Canadians worry that aging boomers will overload health system

As the wave of baby boomers begin to retire, the strains of funding Canada’s health-care system will only grow over the next decade.

Combined with rising costs for most things in general, economists say health care spending, left unchecked, will become unsustainable.

So is it an wonder that so many Canadians worry about whether the country’s health system is ill-prepared to handle the needs of an aging population. 

Six in 10 Canadians lack confidence in the health system’s ability to care for Canada’s rapidly greying population, particularly those who already have experience with its approach to looking after seniors,  according to a recent study from the Canadian Medical Association.

Women, particularly those already caring for an elderly person, are among those least confident that hospitals and long-term care facilities can handle the demands of a population that's living longer than ever before.

The solution: Increase funding for long-term care facilities, home care and caregivers and improve  utilization in general. But that’s probably not going to happen anytime soon, the CMA suggests.

But it is clearly the way to go. Estimates vary, but care provided in hospital costs $842 per day, while that provided in long-term care facilities is $126 per day. Home and community care are much less expensive.

It's still an incredible amount of money to go through, however. So much so that Canadians spent, largely through taxes, a total of $207-billion for health services in 2012. That works out to $5,948 per capita, according to the Canadian Institute for Health Information.

The treouble is, the health services people use vary considerably with age, rising to $6,223 per capita after the age of 65 and $20,113 for those 80 and older.

Add it all up and we consume, on average, just over $220,000 in publicly funded health-care services over a lifetime, the CIHI estimates.

Do you feel you're getting your fair share of available health dollars? Are you worried about what the future might hold?

By Gordon Powers, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...