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Newsletter Article


Canada’s Rise in Health Care Spending Driven by Drug Costs

Country Correspondent: Aisha Gomez

According to figures released by the Canadian Institute for Health Information, health care spending per person grew by nearly 4 percent in 2017, compared with just 2.7 percent in 2016. Although prescription drugs represent only 16 percent of total spending, they have been the fastest-growing type of expense since 2015. In 2017, drug spending is expected to increase by 5.2 percent, compared with 2.9 percent and 4.4 percent for hospital and physician costs, respectively. Prescription drug spending has accelerated in recent years because of expensive drugs such as biologics and hepatitis C drugs entering the market. Canada’s universal health care programs that are run by provinces and territories cover drugs received in the hospital only. States and territories provide publicly funded drug coverage for vulnerable populations such as seniors and low-income individuals, and public spending accounts for two-fifths (42.7%) of total drug spending. In addition, Ontario recently launched a universal prescription drug coverage for children and youth up to 24 years.


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