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Health Care Costs

Recognizing red flags early and starting appropriate treatment can mean the difference between life and death for kids in emergency care.
Birth is the most common reason that Canadian women are hospitalized each year.
Health care costs the public sector about $160 billion a year in Canada, a higher per capita cost than most industrialized
It makes zero sense that in a nation with universal health care, we have decided that mental health does not matter and should not be financially covered.
Health care and drug coverage is often used as a political football, and coverage of medicines can make an easy and convenient target as a place to find short-term cost savings despite the need for a broader discussion on overall system reform.
As daily decisions made amid unhealthy environments pile up, our chances of becoming sick increase. Then we head to the doctor's office or hospital. It is ironic that we continue to call ours a health-care system, when in reality it only takes care of us when we are already sick.
Nothing in life is free.
B.C. attempted to coax individual doctors to provide important primary care services (chronic disease management, mental health care and preventative care, for example) and discourage walk-in style practice by providing additional incentive payments within the public fee-for-service system.
Think a toxic injury that doesn't heal. If you are susceptible, exposure to small amounts of chemicals every day creates a "body burden" that impacts multiple biological systems (nervous, digestive, respiratory system, etc.). Typically, you don't detox very well, and repeated exposures can trigger the "on" switch in your brain, making you hypersensitive.
Across Canada, public and private drug plans are increasingly using reference-based pricing policies to contain costs. Under reference-based pricing, drug plans reimburse the cost of the reference drug(s) in a medication class. Most often, this is the least expensive drug.
There is a worrying rise in health care spending in Canada, but it doesn't have much to do with population aging. It's not that we have too many seniors that will break the bank, but how those seniors, and others, are treated in the health system that affects the bottom line.
We know that the U.S. has the most expensive health care in the world. But beyond noting that dubious achievement, we seldom ask why. On my recent visit to Canada as a Fulbright scholar, I stopped by to pose that question to one of their leading health care experts, David Dodge, an economist who has served as federal deputy health minister and seven terms as governor of the Bank of Canada.
Canada's health expenditures as a share of the economy are, after accounting for our younger population, higher compared to every other developed nation with universal health insurance. Yet Canadians endure some of the longest delays for emergency care, primary care, specialist consultations, and elective surgery in the developed world.
The next generation doesn't have it easy. The world is changing...and rapidly. What we're about to experience globally is
This past week I paid $3,673.73 in vet bills accrued by our four year-old yellow Lab, Maggie, who was stricken with a mysterious, Ebola-like malady. There was never any thought of NOT paying. Still, the $3,673.73 bill stuck in my mind. Perhaps it is because, as a Canadian and a resident of Ontario, I never see human medical bills.
We cannot deny the fact that the costs of prescription drugs have been increasing at a considerable rate over the last few decades. While total healthcare spending per capita has almost tripled during this period, per capita expenditures on prescription drugs have increased six-fold. But should this trend be a source of concern?
How much a society spends on health care has not been found to be directly related to any health outcome tested. A society that spends so much on health care that it cannot or will not spend adequately on other health-enhancing activities may actually be reducing the health of its population. If a country wants to see significant improvements in its population health, the best public policy is to eliminate poverty.
We need leaders who will rise to the challenge of protecting and improving medicare, not shirk their responsibilities. Prime Minister Harper, you are needed back at the table for a 2014 Health Accord. Canadians have real expectations of you, not just to cut cheques -- and increasingly smaller cheques at that -- but to lead Canada on health care. Your absence will hurt the health of Canadians.
Here's the paradox in modern health care: medicine has never been better, but we seem to be getting collectively less healthy. Obesity rates continue to rise dramatically: One in four Canadians are overweight and among the heaviest of the Western world.
There is no single reform that is going to make medicare work better. But there is a general approach that would be useful. And that alternative approach recognizes the limitations of centralized planning and the need to allow more private money and leadership into the system.