Topic:
DEBT; MEDICAL CARE; STATISTICAL INFORMATION;
Location:
MEDICAL CARE;

OLR Research Report


April 17, 2006

 

2006-R-0289

HEALTH CARE COST COMPARISON OF THE UNITED STATES AND CANADA

By: Natalie Wagner, Legislative Fellow

You asked for statistical information about Canadian health care spending and debt in comparison with that of the United States.

SUMMARY

In both the United States and Canada, the amount of health care spending funded by government revenues is below the average of 72% among the 30 member countries to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). In the United States, about 45% of the total health expenditure is financed by the government compared to about 70% in Canada. The U.S. spends about $2,500 more per person each year on health care than Canada. And the U.S. state and federal debt was nearly $7.5 trillion in 2003 compared to a total debt of under $650 billion in Canada. All numbers in this report should be treated as estimates.

HEALTH CARE SPENDING

In both the United States and Canada, the amount of health care spending funded by government revenue is below the average of 72% among OECD member countries. OECD is an intergovernmental organization that monitors market trends in its 30 member countries (Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom, and the United States). It was formed in 1961 as an economic counterpart to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Table 1 compares U.S. and Canadian health expenditures for 2003, the latest year for which complete data is available. Table 2 shows the percent of Canadian health spending by source of finance for 2003. And Table 3 shows the percent of U.S. health spending by source of finance for 2003.

Table 1: Health Expenditure Comparison Data for 2003

 

Per Capita Health Expenditure (USD)

Total Health Expenditure as % of GDP

Public Health Expenditure as % of Total Health Expenditure

United States

5,635

15.0 %

44.4 %

Canada

3,003

9.9 %

70.2 %

Source: Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, OECD Health Data 2005

Table 2: Percent Distribution of Canadian Health Spending by Source of Finance in 2003

Provincial Government

(A)

Federal Direct (B)

Municipal Government (C)

Social Security Funds

(D)

Total Public Sector (A+B+C+D)

(E)

Private Sector (F)

63.8 %

4.1 %

0.8 %

1.5 %

70.2 %

29.8 %

Source: Canadian Institute of Health, National Health Expenditure Database

Table 3: Percent Distribution of U.S. Health Spending by Source of Finance in 2003

State and Local Government

(A)

Federal Government

(B)

Total Public Sector

(A+B)

(C)

Private Sector

(D)

13.3%

32.3%

45.6%

54.4%

Source: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Office of the Actuary, National Health Statistics Group, National health expenditures, 2003.

DEBT COMPARISON (US DOLLARS)

The U.S. debt (federal only) at the end of FY 03 was $6,783,231,062,744, according to the Bureau of the Public Debt. State debt at end of FY 03 was $697,929,028,000, according to the Governments Division of the U.S. Census Bureau. This adds up to a combined federal and state debt for FY 03 of $7,481,160,090,744. The Canadian debt (federal only) at the end of FY 03 was $389,878,554,502, and the provincial and territorial debt was $189,485,337,677, for a combined debt of $579,363,892,180, according to Statistics Canada.

Table 4 compares the debt, gross domestic product (GDP) and health care spending of the U.S. and Canada.

Table 4: Comparison of Debt, Gross Domestic Product,

and Health Care Spending

 

United States (USD)

Canada (USD)

Debt

7,481,160,090,744

579,363,892,180

Per capita

25,721

18,294

Gross Domestic Product

10,918,500,000,000

961,800,000,000

Per capita

37,510

30,380

Health Care Spending

164,000,000,000

95,100,000,000

Per capita

5,635

3,003

Sources: Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, OECD Health Data 2005; Bureau of the Public Debt; Governments Division of the U.S. Census Bureau; Statistics Canada

Further information on this topic can be found at:

1. Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development – www.oecd.org

2. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services - www.cms.hhs.gov

3. Statistics Canada - www.statcan.ca/start.html

4. Bureau of the Public Debt - www.publicdebt.treas.gov

5. Government Division of the US Census Bureau - www.census.gov/govs/www

NW:ro