Sep 21, 2010, 12:25 PM
Post #1 of 1
In the summer issue of Zoomer magazine Moses Znaimer, the magazine’s founder, attempted to debunk the so-called “myth of the looming health-care crisis” through a clever, if not selective use of statistics.
Mr. Znaimer’s thesis stated that there’s no way aging baby boomers will have a negative impact on healthcare because baby boomers tend to be more health conscious and lead a healthier lifestyle, baby boomers will continue to pay taxes long into their retirement years and besides, the young use the healthcare system as much if not more than older people.
Much of his argument was akin to an effort at denying the possibility that a person could drown in a creek with an average depth of six inches. For instance, Mr. Znaimer contends that by the year 2031 nearly half the population will be over the age of 49 and “by extrapolation, Zoomers [baby boomers] will comprise 63 percent of all Canadian Tax filers.” Voila! No healthcare crisis because baby boomers will bear the cost of their own healthcare and even subsidize that of younger demographics.
He grudgingly admits that 82.8% of people between the age of 45 and 64 have seen a physician in the past year, but then goes on to say that 80% of 35 to 44-year-olds and 78.2% of 15 to 19-year-olds have also seen a physician in the past year.
But the numbers paint a vastly different picture. Using Znaimer’s statistics and census data provided by Stats Can the number of individuals in the 45 to 64 group that saw a doctor in the past year is over 6.9 million, while those in the 35-44 group is 3.8 million and the number of the 15 to 19 group is a mere 1.6 million. If one factors in those over the age of 64, then the older demographics make as much use of healthcare services as all other demographics combined. It appears that Moses Znaimer tends to use statistics, as Andrew Lang once said, much “as a drunken man uses lampposts—for support rather than illumination.”
Another inconvenient statistic that Mr. Znaimer has omitted from his column is just how much it costs to provide healthcare for individuals over the age of 60. The average per capita expenditure on healthcare in Canada runs approximately $2,600 per year. However if one adds up what’s spent just on the over-60 demographic it amounts to $6,000 per person per year. Expenditures for older demographics, say those 70 to 80-year-olds that Znaimer seems to think will live forever, are even higher at a whopping $12,000 per person per year.
There is a looming healthcare crisis in Canada, Moses Znaimer’s Zoomer fantasy notwithstanding. We have been lamenting untenable wait times, lack of cash and lack of qualified medical personnel for over a decade. As Canada’s population ages, there will be an increase in demand for healthcare services driven in large part by our aging population. Regardless of whether or not those seniors pay taxes, eat watercress or run marathons, that crisis will not abate. Minimizing it is not helpful to those who experience it first hand.
Klaus Rohrich is President and Creative Director of Taylor/Rohrich Associates Inc., a marketing and advertising firm that specializes in niche marketing retirement real estate developments
(This post was edited by klaus on Sep 22, 2010, 10:23 AM)