Monday, June 07, 2010
Health Care Costs: Relative to GDP or Gov't Spending?
One of the best reasons to read The Tyee is Will McMartin. He is a rare journalist with the ability and desire to wade through the BC government's own stats in order to separate the wheat from the chaff.
In his latest article on health care spending, McMartin exposes the myth that health care spending is out of control and outstripping our ability to pay for it. Put briefly, McMartin shows that, as a percentage of BC's GDP, health care costs are relatively static. Rather than comparing health care costs to overall government spending, which has gone down as a percentage of GDP, McMartin compares health care costs to GDP itself, which is the measure of overall economic output. As such, he shows that health care is not out of control, and we can continue to pay for it - assuming we don't want to keep lowering taxes. Health care might be taking a bigger slice of government spending, but a bigger share of a consciously reduced spending envelope doesn't change the fact that the real costs of health care have not gone through the roof. In other words, if the BC Liberals choose to reduce taxes and reduce their overall revenue and spending, that shouldn't be used as a battering ram against "rising" health care costs.