VANCOUVER—A typical Canadian family of four (two parents, two children) will pay $13,311 for public health-care insurance in 2019, finds a new study released today by the Fraser Institute, an independent, non-partisan Canadian public policy thinktank.
“Despite misleading claims of Canada’s ‘free’ health-care system, Canadians actually pay a substantial amount of money for health care through a variety of taxes—even if they don’t pay directly for medical services,” said Bacchus Barua, associate director of health policy studies at the Fraser Institute and co-author of The Price of Public Health Care Insurance, 2019.
Most Canadians are unaware of the true cost of health care because they never see a bill for medical services, may only pay a small health insurance “premium” tax (in provinces that impose them), and because general government revenue—not a dedicated tax—funds Canada’s public health-care system.
But using data from Statistics Canada and the Canadian Institute for Health Information, the study estimates that a typical Canadian family consisting of two parents and two children with an average household income of $140,049 will pay $13,311 for public health care this year. After adjusting for inflation, that’s an increase of 65.8 per cent since 1997, the first year of calculable estimates.
For single Canadians, health-care costs more than doubled over that same period— from $2,150 to (in 2019 dollars) to $4,544 this year.
Across the income spectrum, the amount Canadian families pay for health care varies widely. For example, the 10 per cent of families with the lowest incomes (earning $15,070 per household, on average) will pay $464 for health care in 2019, while families among the top 10 per cent of income earners (earning a household income of $298,872, on average) will pay $39,486.
“Only when Canadians understand how much we pay for our public health-care system can we better decide whether or not we get good value for our money,” Barua said. (30)