Thursday, May 30, 2013

Who pays and who benefits?

Lifetime Distributional Effects of Publicly Financed Health Care in Canada

A lifetime perspective on equity is needed. Short term analysis introduce confounding factors. Fortunately, today we have good news. The Canadian Institute of Health Information has released an interesting research using this approach, and these are the key results:
• Health care costs are higher for low-income groups, but differences are not as pronounced when estimated over the life course instead of in a single year (2011 in this analysis).
- Average lifetime health care costs are $237,500 per person in the lowest income group and $206,000 in the highest income group—a difference of 15%. The difference is much larger (60%) when considering the effect on a single year (2011).
• Tax payments to finance health care are higher among higher-income groups but, like health costs, the differences between income groups are less pronounced when taking a life course perspective.
- Over a lifetime, average annual tax payments to finance health care costs are approximately 8.5 times as high in the highest income group as in the lowest income group. A more pronounced difference of 10 times between groups is estimated when looking at 2011 only.
• Patterns of health care costs and tax payments for different income groups have an effect on the distribution of income.
- Average annual health care costs represent 24% of the income of the lowest income group ($4,220 of $17,500) but 3% of the highest income group’s average income ($3,350 of $114,900).
Although the corresponding tax payment amounts are much higher in high-income groups, in an average year over a lifetime, the lowest income group pays 6% of its income toward publicly funded health care services; the highest income group pays just less than 8%.
Lifetime average after-tax income in the highest income group is 5.1 times the income of the lowest group; after adding the dollar value of health care costs, the gap was reduced to 4.3 times.
Hopefully one day we'll have something similar for our country.

PS. Fyi - from BBC News.
The European Commission is launching legal action against Spain over the refusal of some hospitals to recognise the European Health Insurance Card.
The EHIC entitles EU citizens to free healthcare in public hospitals.
But some Spanish hospitals rejected the card and told tourists to reclaim the cost of treatment via their travel insurance, the Commission says.
A BBC correspondent says the Commission is not accusing cash-strapped Spanish hospitals of trying to make money. The Commission, which checks compliance with EU law, has requested information on the issue from the Spanish government - the first stage of an infringement procedure which could eventually result in a fine.

PS. The course on Health for all through primary care at Coursera-Johns Hopkins has started. Free for all.

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