Figures released by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) show that the country’s health spending continues to grow and is expected to reach $264 billion in 2019 — a 4% increase over last year.
National Health Expenditure Trends, 1975 to 2019 shows that Canada continues to make investments in health care. While expenditures vary across the country, health spending is expected to reach $7,068 per Canadian — up from $6,867 in 2018.
Private-sector Reference1 health care spending has remained relatively consistent over the past 2 decades, funding around 30% of Canada’s total health expenditures. Drugs and Other Professionals (such as Dental Services and Vision Care Services) are the top categories of private-sector spending in Canada, accounting for 66% of private-sector spending, compared with 10% of total public-sectorReference2 spending.
In 2017, the latest year for which private-sector data is available, payments by private insurance companies accounted for 41% of private-sector spending, while out-of-pocket expenditures represented 49%.
National health expenditure by the numbers
- Overall, health spending as a share of Canada’s gross domestic product (GDP) is trending upward. It is estimated that health expenditures will represent 11.6% of Canada’s GDP in 2019.
- Hospitals continue to use the largest share of health dollars (27%), followed by drugs (15%) and physicians (15%). These 3 areas have consistently accounted for the majority of health spending, but this year physician spending is expected to see the biggest growth overall — a 4% increase from last year.
- Health care spending is highest on seniors. Although per-person spending increased considerably with age — from $6,656 for those age 65 to 69 to $20,793 for those age 80 and olderReference3 — population aging is a modest driver of increasing health care costs, at about 1% per year.
- Canada continues to rank among the highest per capita spenders on health among Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries. For 2018, the latest year for which international data is available, the OECD reports that Canada’s per capita spending on health care was $6,448,Reference4 comparable to that of the Netherlands (CA$6,855), France (CA$6,436) and Australia (CA$6,488).
“A stronger economy and prospects for higher government revenues over the past few years have put more money into Canada’s health care systems. It will be important to monitor health spending trends — particularly in areas like physician and drug spending — so that jurisdictions can determine where to invest their health care dollars.” — Michael Hunt, Director, Health Spending and Strategic Initiatives, Canadian Institute for Health Information
The Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) is an independent, not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing essential health information to all Canadians.
CIHI works closely with federal, provincial and territorial partners and stakeholders throughout Canada to gather, package and disseminate information to inform policy, management, care and research, leading to better and more equitable health outcomes for all Canadians.
Health information has become one of society’s most valuable public goods. For 25 years, CIHI has set the pace on data privacy, security, accessibility and innovation to improve Canada’s health systems.
CIHI: Better data. Better decisions. Healthier Canadians.
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- Back to Reference 1 in text
- Private-sector funding consists primarily of 2 sources: out-of-pocket expenditures by households and payments made by private insurance firms.
- Back to Reference 2 in text
- Public-sector funding includes payments by governments at the federal, provincial/territorial and municipal levels, as well as payments by workers’ compensation boards and other social security schemes.
- Back to Reference 3 in text
- Based on 2017 data, the latest year for data broken down by age group.
- Back to Reference 4 in text
- Total health expenditures for Canada in OECD reports exclude spending on capital, health research and the training of health workers. This differs from National Health Expenditure Trends reporting.