Health care ‘voodoo’ economics

Would somebody please explain the New Brunswick (and while you are at it the Canadian) health care system to me? Specifically, the economics of it. I have an MBA and graduate level education in economics but I can’t figure it out.

Over the past eight years or so, the New Brunswick government has put billions more into the health care budget -this despite the fact that the population has actually declined slightly. The health care sector is the fastest growing in New Brunswick – adding thousands of more workers in that eight year period. The total health care budget today is $1.926 billion. That means the government spends about $8,600 per family for health care in New Brunswick. Now, you then need to pile on private costs of health care which in my case adds another $2,000+ per year. So, on average, it costs over $10,000 per year to provide health care for my family – or about the amount of a good HMO in the U.S.

The health budget was $1.319 billion in 1999 – roughly a $610 million increase per year – or about $2,800 per New Brunswick family.

Keep in mind there has been a slight decrease in population during that same eight year period.

Now with all that background, my wife goes to the doctor and the doc orders a routine test. We get a letter in the mail confirming the appointment in June. My wife calls them to say we will be on vacation in June, can we reschedule for July or August. She is told that the notice said June 2008 so she would not have to reschedule.

June 2008 for a routine test. A test she could get in Brazil (her home country) for $80 and in 2-3 days.

$600 million more spending. Same population base. Thousands more health care workers.

And the wait times for routine tests are up by 2-3 times what they were eight years ago.

Somebody explain this economics to me, please.

This is not just another person complaining about health care (well, actually, yes it is). There are a few serious considerations here.

The first is near and dear to my heart. Former Premier Lord bragged at great length about his ‘investments’ in health care. 80% of all new money, he said. $2 billion more since 1999, he said.

And what did he get for it?

Longer wait times, thank you very much.

Divert money out of economic development and strategic infrastructure into health care and get worse outcomes.

Makes sense to me.

Secondly, can we really expect people to move here (you know, the whole self sufficiency thing) when they have to wait 14 months for a routine exam?

This is a serious issue.