The number of elderly Canadians is growing, and concern about the future of Canada’s health care system appears to be growing in lockstep.
That is one of the main findings from the CMA’s 2010 Report Card on Health Care in Canada, which reveals a clear generation gap developing in relation to health care issues. For instance, respondents under age 46 are much more likely to anticipate taking “financial steps” to meet future health care costs than those aged 46 and older. Those steps, such as buying health insurance to supplement the public system upon retirement, were much more popular within the younger cohort (37%) than the older one (17%).
“This year’s report card definitely shows that young adults are bracing for increased health care costs in the future,” commented CMA President Anne Doig. “We know that as people age they use the health care system more. This report card is a clear signal that Canadians want a clear dialogue on the tough issues, and they want it now.”
The report card, released Aug. 23, is based on an online survey of 3,483 Canadian adults. Findings include:
- A vast majority (80%) of Canadians are worried that the quality of health care will decline due to strains caused by the aging baby boomer generation
- A similar proportion (79%) are worried the system will not be able to offer the same level of coverage it does now as more baby boomers reach retirement age
- Three in four Canadians (76%) are concerned that they will have to pay higher taxes so that the health care system can provide services to baby boomers
- Almost three-quarters of respondents (73%) fear they will not have enough money to maintain their health as they age
- Another three-quarters (74%) agree that urgent change is needed if the health care system of the future is to provide today’s level of care to the baby boom generation
“Concern for the future of health care and the impact of the baby boom generation is very real,” concluded the report card summary prepared by Ipsos Reid, which conducted the survey for the CMA.
A vast majority of respondents (85%) agree that the challenges arising from the aging population mean that it is time for federal/provincial/territorial governments to begin negotiating a new health care funding agreement.
When it comes to overall quality of the health care system, 75% of respondents gave it a grade of either A (36%) or B (39%), consistent with combined grades of 74% in 2009 and 73% in 2008. An A grade was most common in Atlantic Canada (43%) and Ontario (40%), and rarest in Quebec (31%) and British Columbia (29%).
This year marked the 10th time the CMA has prepared a national report card on the health care system in preparation for its annual meeting, which begins Aug. 23 in Niagara Falls, Ont. Ipsos Reid conducted the survey in June, and the margin of error is estimated to be ± 1.7%, 19 times out of 20.