The Direct Burden of Socio-Economic Health Inequalities in Canada

Submitted by Tamarack on April 15, 2016 - 10:52am
An Analysis of Health Care Costs by Income Level

People who enjoy higher social and economic positions relative to others based on their income, education or occupation tend to be healthier. As such, they generally need and use fewer health care services, resulting in lower health care costs. This report examines health care cost differences between socio-economic status groups in order to estimate what these differences cost the Canadian health care system. This estimate is called the direct economic burden of socio-economic inequalities in health.

This report offers the first national-level estimate of the contribution of health inequalities to health care costs. Highlighting the costs of poor health informs Canadians about potential economic gains from improving health and reducing health inequalities by addressing the social, economic and environmental conditions that strongly influence health.

Key Findings

  • Health care costs generally decline as income rises for both men and women.
  • Health care costs could be potentially reduced by $6.2 billion if all Canadians had the same health care utilization and cost patterns as those in the highest income group. Over 14% of total annual expenditures are currently spent on on acute care in-patient hospitalizations, prescription medications and physician consultations.
  • The lowest income group accounts for 60% ($3.7 billion) of the health care costs of socio-economic health inequalities.

Read the full report here: The Direct Burden of Socio-Economic Health Inequalities in Canada

Discover the technical report here: Health Costs by Income Level