EDMONTON—Alberta's aging baby boomers will not make public health care unaffordable or unsustainable. This is the key finding of a report released today by the University of Alberta's Parkland Institute.
Sustainable Healthcare for Seniors: Keeping it Public points out that maintaining current health services in light of an aging population will only cost an additional 1.32 percent per year above inflation and adjustments for population growth.
Given Alberta's average GDP growth of 4.2 % per year, per capita over the last decade, the report points out that maintaining current levels of service is well within the range of what the province can afford, and would not put excessive strain on the province's budget or bottom line.
"But that is not enough," says report author, finance economist Greg Flanagan. "There are serious shortfalls and gaps in the health services offered to Alberta's seniors today. It is not enough to maintain the status quo; the report also shows that the provincial government can easily afford to improve the public services and healthcare currently available to seniors, and that it should do so quickly."
The report includes an independent demographic analysis of the growing number of seniors in Alberta, and a calculation of their added costs to the healthcare system. It then places these costs into the context of an economic analysis of affordability, based on international, national and provincial considerations. The report concludes with a series of recommendations for both improved healthcare for seniors and reductions in health expenditures in the long-term.
Ricardo Acuña, Executive Director of the Parkland Institute, points out that "the main impetus for this report was the Provincial Government's new commission to review demographic trends and their implications for affordability of seniors' supports. This government has a history of favouring increased de-listing and privatization of publicly insured healthcare services. This report clearly shows that, despite the upcoming demographic shift, our public system is more than affordable over the long term."