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The Split: Public vs. Private Healthcare Spending

In this edition of Graphic Intelligence, we shed light on the universality of the Canadian public healthcare system by showing the proportion of health expenditures financed by public vs private sources.

Although our healthcare system is highly regarded among Canadians, one might ask whether the perception of its universality aligns with reality.

Provincial and territorial plans must insure all medically necessary services provided by hospitals, physicians and dentists (when the service is performed in a hospital). They may also provide supplemental coverage for seniors, children and social assistance recipients to access prescription drugs or vision and dental services. Nearly all hospital, public health and physician services are paid for with public dollars.

Healthcare does not, however, begin and end with emergency or medically necessary care. The majority of the cost of other health professionals, medicines (prescription and non-prescription drugs) and health administration are paid by private insurance or out-of-pocket, as shown in the graphic.

Overall, public funding covers almost 70 cents of every dollar spent in Canada’s healthcare system. It is important for Canadians to be well informed about the extent of coverage provided by public dollars when considering reforms or expansions to the healthcare system.