We Older Folks Are Expensive

Okay, I’m not that old yet.  But I’m definitely in the latter half of the current incarnation.  So I feel a tad justified in the title of today’s post…

Last week I was privileged to serve on a panel hosted by the Emerging Health Leaders of Ottawa on the topic of the new Canadian Health Accord.  (You can watch or listen to a recording of the event here.) Here’s a selfie I took from the podium:



The event garnered a fair amount of press, including this article in the Ottawa Citizen, and this follow-up by CMAJ on the panel itself.

My presentation was on some of the demographic trends that describe the differences in health needs across Canada’s provinces.

You can access my slides here.  You will note that some of my cited stats are from 2009.  This is because for some trends those were the most recent numbers I could find.  Since that talk, a senior analyst from the Canadian Institute for Health Information informed me that they have updated information. The curious can access their report here.

The most commonly tweeted element from my talk was my assertion that health costs for 75-79 year olds is up to ten times that of 10-14 year olds.  In the interest of transparency, I thought I would use this space to discuss how that number came about.

To be honest, I plucked it from this report by Dale Orr titled, “Why Do Some Provinces Spend More on Health Care Than Others?”

Mr. Orr does not detail where he obtained that particular statistic.  However, other sources do back it up.  For instance, this report from CIHI shows that spending on 75-79 year olds is about $6 billion, while that on 10-14 years olds is about $1 billion; so the multiplier is more like 6 than 10.

From: https://secure.cihi.ca/free_products/NHEXTrendsReport_EN.pdf


Comparing the Canadian system to comparable systems would be useful. This source from New Zealand suggests that the cost per 10-14 year old per year is about $500, while that per 75-79 year old per year is closer to $6000, suggesting that the multiplier is around 12.

Regardless, old folks cost our system much more than young folks. That’s all I came here to say.

I leave you with the view of the audience as seen from the podium: