The ageing population is a standard refrain in analyses of rising healthcare costs. However, it seems that despite the growing population of seniors, health care dollars are not being consumed accordingly.
These findings are but one piece of the puzzle unveiled in the National Health Expenditure Trends, 1975-2010 report by the Canadian Institute for Health Information.
Between 1998 and 2008 the percentage of seniors rose. Accordingly, the percentage of the healthcare budget allocated to them also rose. However, the amount actually spent barely changed over this period.
Although this is not a sustainable situation-the senior population continues to grow-these findings broaden the number considerations being addressed in discussions of healthcare costs.
It is possible that the seniors of tomorrow may be healthier than those of today, upon which the bleak cost predictions are based.
Another factor to consider is the improving efficiency of care for the elderly. What the report suggests is that the system can adapt to changing environments and needs.
The findings indicate that costs are rising at a moderate pace, and not at all in a way that warrants the picture of crisis and unsustainable costs that we now have. The challenges are large, but not gargantuan. What is more, while costs rise, so do the number of doctors.
The report concludes that despite the fuss about health care costs, more attention should be paid to the missing link between the investment in the system and the returns being paid out.