Trends in Out-of-Pocket Health Care Expenses
Statistics Canada researches and reports on virtually everything that affects Canadians, from consumer spending to out-of-pocket healthcare expenditures. According to a Statistics Canada report, Canadians are spending an ever-increasing percentage of their total income on health care. The additional burden of these rising costs is most stressful for lower income Canadians.
In the lowest income households, out-of-pocket health care spending accounted for 5.7% of the total income, compared to 2.6% for those in the highest income households. Many of these expenses are unexpected and therefore don’t make it into the household budget considerations. In addition to putting a dent in a family’s income, it can lead to failure to comply with treatment plans. This is especially true for dental treatment that can be viewed as “optional” when patients are trying to justify the added expense.
Treatments Are Not Optional
You may be able to work out a payment plan with your dentist or work with them to find a more financially manageable solution to your problem. However, taking care of your oral health is an important component of your overall health and wellbeing plan. If costs continue to rise to a point that is out of reach for uninsured Canadians, something will have to be done to address this growing problem.
Health and Dental Insurance
It is often suggested that dental insurance coverage is too expensive for those already struggling to make ends meet. If that is your view, be sure to keep in mind the cost of emergency dental treatment for something as seemingly routine as a broken tooth. It can cost in the neighbourhood upwards of $1000 per tooth, depending on the treatment program and the materials used to build the replacement tooth. That is just the cost for a single dental emergency. Ongoing maintenance for more serious oral health issues is even more expensive.
There is no reason to expect a reversal in this trend of rising out-of-pocket health and dental care expenses in Canada any time soon. While it’s true that purchasing private health and dental insurance is an out-of-pocket expense, at the very least it is a fixed cost that can be factored into an annual or monthly budget for most families. When weighing the cost of dental insurance versus the cost of emergency treatment when finances are tight, thinking long-term is always the best strategy.