Alberta Must Prepare for $580 Billion Health Bill

by pmnationtalk on December 18, 2014926 Views

December 18, 2014 – Albertans carry a $580 billion fiscal burden – the future tax bill for increased healthcare costs over the next half-century – and should prepare now for the coming demographic squeeze, says a report released today from the C.D. Howe Institute. In “Managing the Costs of Healthcare for an Aging Population: How Alberta Can Confront its Fiscal Glacier,” authors William B.P. Robson, Colin Busby and Aaron Jacobs recommend changes to protect young Albertans from the burden they will otherwise bear as the tax base grows more slowly and healthcare costs rise.

“One approach that would help address this burden would be for Alberta to convert their age-based drug coverage model to one that is income-based, learning from British Columbia’s similar reforms a decade ago,” remarked Busby. Robson added, “This switch would cover drug costs for those who cannot afford them, and reduce the intergenerational unfairness of a plan that taxes the young to pay benefits only to the old.”

The report rejects higher federal transfers as a solution. It notes that Alberta is a relatively well-off province that would likely come out on the wrong end of any increase in federal-provincial transfers, and arguing moreover that past boosts in federal funding have likely discouraged reforms that would have made provincial healthcare more sustainable.

Other recommendations to improve the sustainability of Alberta’s healthcare system include:

  • Incorporate team-based primary care models where patients can get comprehensive non-major services from an organized group of healthcare professionals;
  • Let less expensive medical providers, such as nurse practitioners, deliver simple services that are currently performed by more expensive doctors; and
  • Foster improvements in, and more use of, non-hospital care for seniors with long-term conditions.
  • Benchmark against other provinces’ best practices in areas where Alberta spends relatively more.

For the report go to:

The C. D. Howe Institute is an independent not-for-profit research institute whose mission is to raise living standards by fostering economically sound public policies. It is Canada’s trusted source of essential policy intelligence, distinguished by research that is nonpartisan, evidence-based and subject to definitive expert review. It is considered by many to be Canada’s most influential think tank.

For more information contact: William B.P. Robson, President and CEO, and Colin Busby, Senior Policy Analyst, C.D. Howe Institute, at 416-865-1904; E-mail:


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