Prepare for the Coming Crush of Long-Term Care Patients

Posted on September 17, 2014 in Health Policy Context

CDHowe,org – Recent Research
September 17, 2014.   Åke Blomqvist and Colin Busby

Provincial governments should not expand public healthcare to cover the growing costs of long-term care (LTC), according to a new C.D. Howe Institute report. In “Paying for the Boomers: Long-Term Care and intergenerational Equity” authors Åke Blomqvist and Colin Busby say that such a move would put too much financial stress on future taxpayers.


“Long-term care expenses are set to balloon once the boomer population hits age eighty,” remarks Blomqvist. “The number of seniors relative to the working-age population is rapidly increasing and the economic growth rate appears to be falling, meaning today’s working-age generations likely will not have incomes grow fast enough to offset the burden of rising public costs of long-term care and other programs.”

The authors estimate that, under the status quo, the costs of delivering and paying for LTC would roughly triple over the next 40 years, growing from around $69 billion in 2014 to around $188 billion in 2050, in inflation-adjusted dollars. Public LTC costs are estimated to grow from around $24 billion in 2014 to around $71 billion in 2050, and the private burden is anticipated to be even higher, growing from around $44 billion to about $116 billion over the same period of time.

A multi-pronged solution to better target means-tested public subsidies and allow growth of private insurance and savings should be pursued, according to the authors. Policymakers could do so in a manner that assures LTC access for those who need it but can’t afford it. And because many Canadians today believe, somewhat falsely, that governments will pay for their future LTC costs, reforms must encourage individuals to take on greater responsibility to pay for their own future LTC.

Busby concludes that “it’s important to strike the right balance between the costs to government or taxpayers and those that can be reasonably borne by individuals.”


For more information contact: Åke Blomqvist, Adjunct Research Professor, Carleton University, and Health Policy Scholar, C.D. Howe Institute; Colin Busby, Senior Policy Analyst, C.D. Howe Institute. Phone: 416-865-1904 Ext. 9997; E-Mail: [].

The C. D. Howe Institute is an independent not-for-profit research institute whose mission is to raise living standards by fostering economically sound public policies.  It is Canada’s trusted source of essential policy intelligence, distinguished by research that is nonpartisan, evidence-based and subject to definitive expert review.  It is considered by many to be Canada’s most influential think tank.

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