The government of Alberta has consistently used the threat of the aging baby boomers to undermine confidence in the sustainability of public healthcare. According to the Alberta government, “In coming years, Alberta’s healthcare system will face increasing pressure from an aging population, new medical advances and the rising cost of prescription drugs. Without making changes, Alberta’s public healthcare system will not be sustainable.”
The government has established a commission to review demographic trends and the implications of aging for seniors supports. The anticipated outcomes will include “strategies that encourage future seniors to plan for self-reliance and independence.”
This report peels back the rhetoric to evaluate the real situation for seniors healthcare in the province. The objectives are to shed light on sustainability, and to consider what will be needed in the next 20 years to maintain the optimum health and wellbeing of seniors.
The report includes an independent demographic analysis of the growing number of seniors in Alberta, and a calculus of their added costs to the healthcare system. It will place this into the context of an economic analysis of affordability, putting Alberta’s healthcare costs in perspective, using international, national, and provincial considerations of affordability. Finally, the report presents recommendations for both an improved healthcare model for seniors and reductions in health expenditures in the long-term.
However, the motivation for reform is better health, not cost savings.