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How Affordable is Our Healthcare?

How Affordable is Our Healthcare?

I was watching with interest the American political situation and all the discussion and debate around the issues and introduction of Obamacare (known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act).  All this activity really started to make me think about our own healthcare system here in Canada and wonder how affordable it really is.  As Canadians, we know that we are paying for healthcare – it’s planned and paid for from our government budgets but do we really know how much it actually costs and whether we are getting good value for our money?

According to a report published by the Fraser Institute, we spent $125 billion on health care in 2010 which translates to approximately $3,663 per Canadian.  The actual amount each of us actually paid could be either higher or lower dependent on our personal earnings.

When looking at how this cost compares to other countries, a report published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), stated that health spending in Canada accounted for 11.2% of GDP – and was about 2% higher than the OECD average of 9.3%.  We also have less physicians (2.4 / 1000 people compared to 3.4 / 1000 people) and also have less hospital beds (2.8 / 1000 vs the average of 4.8 / 1000).  It also looks like we have not kept up with the healthcare technology trends as well.

What is even more disturbing is a report that was just published by Sun Life Financial.  In this report, Sun Life stated that 40% of Canadians who have had a serious health event or diagnosis are reporting financial hardship as a result with more than half (53%) of the 45 to 54 year olds struggling to make ends meet.

As I read through these reports I could not  help but wonder how efficient our “free” healthcare system is.

shutterstock_17463796Even though each of us are paying for healthcare through our taxes, we are not personally handing over a cheque or credit card at the time we receive the service – the government has done this already on our behalf.  As a result, we really don’t get to understand, question or choose the type of services we would pay for.  Our voice for the type of healthcare services and delivery we want are now really isolated to only being heard through our votes.

Has this insulated us from being able to truly understand the services we are receiving?  As a country, have we challenged ourselves enough in how we want and expect our healthcare to be delivered?   Are we really researching and leveraging all the available technologies for better health care diagnosis and healthcare delivery?

With an aging population and the increasing demands on our healthcare systems we have to start working on these issues today.  As a nation, we can no longer rest on our laurels of universal healthcare – we need efficient and effective universal healthcare now.  We need to move past our desire to ‘protect our system’ and get back to being open to discussing our flaws and challenges and figuring out what is best way to service and support the health needs of the people of Canada.

As Winston Churchill once stated; “Healthy citizens are the greatest asset any country can have.”

What do you think?  I would love to hear your thoughts….

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