Report shows health-care spending slows in Canada; lowest increase in years

TORONTO – Data from the Canadian Institute for Health Information shows total health spending in Canada has slowed.

This year spending is expected to hit $211 billion, up 2.6 per cent from the total for 2012.

The report says that increase is less than half the average annual growth racked up from 2000 to 2010, which came in at about seven per cent, on average, each year.

The agency says slowing of spending on hospitals, physicians and drugs is creating the effect.

Steven Lewis, a health economist from Saskatchewan, says part of the lower spending for drugs comes from the fact that provinces have negotiated better prices for generic drugs.

Lewis says as well some of the expensive blockbuster drugs that came on the market in the past decade are now off patent, which means cheaper generic versions are available.

He suggests the trend reflected in CIHI’s annual health expenditures reports suggests those doomsayers who insisted health-care costs would spiral upwards unchecked got it wrong.

“I think what it demonstrates is that contrary to the dire predictions of various think tanks, it’s folly to look at a spending trend that lasts a few years, extrapolate it out 30 years and then claim that the sky will fall because 90 per cent of provincial budgets will be consumed by health care,” Lewis says.

“Governments can and do expect some fiscal discipline on the health-care system. They did it in the mid-90s. They’re doing it again now. And expenditures tend to ebb and flow with the rate of growth in the economy and overall provincial and to some extent federal deficit situations.”

The report says Canada will spend roughly $6,000 per person on health care this year in Canada.

And on a per capita basis compared to gross domestic product, Canada’s health-care spending in 2011 placed the country as the fifth highest spender, after the United States, the Netherlands, France and Germany.

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