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Average Canadian family paying more than $11,000 per year for public health care insurance

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Release Date: September 20, 2012

CALGARY, AB—An average Canadian family of two adults and two children will pay about $11,400 in taxes for Canada’s so-called “free” health care in 2012, calculates a new report from the Fraser Institute, Canada's leading public policy think-tank.

The report, The Price of Public Health Care Insurance: 2012 Edition, calculates the amount of taxes an average family pays to all levels of government in a year and the percentage of the total tax bill that goes towards public health care insurance.

By estimating the average income for six types of Canadian families, the report breaks down how much money each will contribute to public health care insurance in 2012:

  • A family of two parents with an average income of $106,808 and one child will pay $10,623.
  • A family of two parents with an average income of $113,226 and two children will pay $11,401.
  • A family of one parent with an average income of $46,134 and one child will pay $3,418.
  • A family of one parent with an average income of $50,964 and two children will pay $3,429.
  • A family of two adults with an average income of $96,458 and no children living at home will pay $11,358.
  • Unattached individuals earning an average income of $37,812 will pay approximately $3,707 for public health insurance.

"There’s a widespread belief that health care is free in Canada. It’s not; our tax dollars cover the cost of it. But the way we pay for health care disguises exactly how much public health care insurance costs Canadian families and how that cost is increasing over time," said Nadeem Esmail, Fraser Institute senior fellow and co-author of the report.

The report notes that since 2002, the cost of health care insurance for the average Canadian family increased by 59.8 per cent before inflation. By way of comparison, the cost of public health care increased more than twice as fast as the cost of shelter, roughly four times as fast as the cost of food, and more than five times as fast as the cost of clothing.

"We also found that the cost of public health care insurance grew 1.6 times faster than the average income over the decade," Esmail said.

In addition, the report calculates that the 10 per cent of Canadian families with the lowest incomes (less than $12,500) will pay an average of about $487 for public health care insurance in 2012. The 10 per cent of families earning an average income of $55,271 will pay $5,285, while families among the top 10 per cent of income earners will pay $32,628 towards public health care insurance this year.

"With a more precise estimate of what they really pay for health care on a personal level, Canadians will be in a better position to judge whether they are getting a good return on the money they spend on health care," Esmail said.



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