Drugs pushing Canada’s total health spend to $242 billion in 2017: CIHI

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As Canada’s total health spend is expected to reach $242 billion by the end of 2017, the amount spent on drugs is expected to grow at the fastest pace, according to new figures by the Canadian Institute for Health Information.

The total projected growth in health spending for 2017 is about four per cent, a slight increase on 2016. Since 2010, the average annual increase has been 3.2%. The total estimated growth of drug spending for the year is 5.2%, followed by growth in physician spending (4.4%) and in hospital spending (2.9%).

Total drug spending is expected to reach $39.8 billion in 2017, with prescription drugs forecast to represent 85.2% of that total. Non-prescribed drugs (over the counter and other medical non-durables) are expected to account for 14.8%.

In 2017, $14.5 billion, or 42.7%, of prescription drug spending will be financed by the public sector, according to the figures. Canadians with drug costs of $10,000 or more represented two per cent of beneficiaries but accounted for one-third of public drug spending in 2016.

“Canada’s economy is improving and, as we have seen in the past, when there is more economic growth, more money is spent on health care,” said Michael Hunt, director of health spending and strategic initiatives at the Canadian Institute for Health Information.

“Drugs, hospitals and physicians continue to be the three biggest categories of overall health spending, but we’ve seen the pace of drug spending increase over the last couple of years. The growth rate for 2017 demonstrates that spending on health is starting to increase.”

Overall, the figures show that health costs are expected to represent 11.5% of Canada’s gross domestic product in 2017, which is similar to last year. Seventy per cent of the spending will come from the public sector, while the remaining 30% will come from the private sector, including 12% paid by private insurance companies.

Total spending is forecast to reach $6,604 per Canadian in 2017, almost $200 more per person than in 2016, but it will vary across the country, from $7,378 in Newfoundland and Labrador and $7,329 in Alberta to $6,367 in Ontario and $6,321 in British Columbia.

Internationally, Canada’s health spending per person in 2015 ($5,681) was similar to spending in France ($5,677), Australia ($5,631) and the United Kingdom ($5,170). Per capita spending remained highest in the United States ($11,916).

Transcontinental Media G.P.