Average Canadian family paying more than $12K to fund public health care: study

Though Canadians love to brag about our "free" health care, we also know it’s not really free; we pay for it in taxes. Now, a new analysis has put a dollar figure on just how much of our money is going to health care.

A new analysis from the Fraser Institute finds that a typical Canadian family of four will pay $12,935 for health care in 2018. The average single Canadian adult will pay $4,640.

Most Canadians are not really sure how much our public health care system costs each of us, since we typically never see a bill from the doctor or hospital visits we make and there is no specific "health care" tax.

But the Fraser Institute came up with its figures by looking at data from various Statistics Canada studies as well from reserach from the Canadian Institute for Health Information.

They say the average Canadian family with two parents and two children will have a household income of $138,008 in 2018 and will pay more than $55,000 in taxes. Of that, $12,935 will go to public health care.

The average single adult makes $44,348 and pays $19,759 in taxes, with $4,640 going to health care insurance.

The Fraser Institute widely defines taxes, including property taxes, Canada Pension Plan and Employment Insurance premiums, as well as motor vehicle license fees "and a host of other levies" in its calculation. It calculates the health-care proportion of taxes paid per family to be the same proportion of tax revenues spent by the government on health care, it says in its report.

Those costs are up significantly from a decade or two ago.

Even after adjusting for inflation, Canadian families of four are paying 68.5 per cent more for health care than they did in 1997. The average single Canadian is paying 119.4 per cent more, the analysis estimates.

That’s because the costs of health care in Canada continue to rise.

The rising cost of health care is outpacing any increases to average incomes, the authors say. In fact, after adjusting for inflation, public health care insurance costs for the average Canadian family grew 1.8 times faster than their average income between 1997 and 2018.

Looking back even further to 1997, the cost of health care insurance increased 3.5 times as fast as the cost of food, 2.4 times as fast as the cost of clothing, and 2.2 times as fast as the cost of shelter.

Bacchus Barua, the associate director of health policy studies at the Fraser Institute and the co-author of the study, says the latest figures “help us have a better discussion about whether we actually get value for the money that we’re spending.”

Barua told CTV News Channel on Tuesday that it’s important to keep highlighting chronic issues such as long wait times for health care and doctor shortages in communities across the country.

“We have a tendency to brush a lot of this off when we think about our health care system is free,” he said.

The full report, entitled "The Price of Public Health Care Insurance, 2018" is available on the Fraser Institute’s website.