We like to think that one of the great virtues of our health care system is that it’s free. But of course nothing could be further from the truth. As the Canadian Institute for Health Information revealed this week, Canadians are spending $242 billion this year on health care. That’s $6,604 per person.
So if you’re the average Canadian, you spend $550 every month on health care, more than you probably spend on almost everything except food and lodging. There are many parts of our system that are terrific, including critical care. But we don’t get a great return for this enormous investment in so many other areas. Wait times are too long and overall our health care system ranks well behind other countries. The system simply isn’t good enough.
One of the problems is that we’re all so grateful not to be billed directly for health services, we never stop to think about how much we’re paying indirectly. Canadians have enormous pride in our health care system, but it’s not as good as we think it is. And it won’t get any better unless we demand more value for our extraordinary investment of money.