Health care - it's not free

Despite what you may think, health care is not free in Canada.

Far from it, in fact.

A new Fraser Institute study reveals annual health-care costs for the typical family will eclipse $13,000 this year.

A typical family of two parents and two children will spend $13,311 on public health-care insurance in 2019, the public policy think-tank says.

“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,” says Bacchus Barua, co-author of the report.

Barua says 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” and because general government revenue – not a dedicated tax – funds Canada’s public health-care system.

Using Statistics Canada and Canadian Institute for Health Information data, the study found the typical family's health care costs have increased 65.8 per cent since 1997.

For single Canadians, health-care costs more than doubled over that period – from $2,150 to $4,544.

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,” says Barua.

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