Extended care, or long-term care, continues to be a considerable expense for older Canadians and their families. According to the Canadian Medical Association, 380,000 Canadians needed long-term care in 2019. In addition, our country’s older population continues to increase and is expected to hit 606,000 long-term care residents in 2031.1
With this in mind, it’s interesting to look at Canada’s current state of long-term care versus other countries. The United States also has a huge demand for long-term care. Let’s compare extended care in Canada versus in America to see how the two stack up.
The State of Long-Term Care in Canada
Before we dive into long-term care and insurance, we need to look at the overall healthcare system in Canada and what it covers.
Canada has thirteen different healthcare systems, and each system is different depending on the territory or province in which it operates. Although each program differs slightly, they all uphold the standards outlined in the 1984 Canada Health Act.2 The five founding principles in the Canada Health Act include:
- Public administration
For Canadian citizens, required care in a hospital or physician’s office is covered, but the public health care system generally doesn’t cover dental care, vision care, or physical rehabilitation services.3 This means that while some long-term care expenses might be covered, others might not be.
Because not all extended care expenses are covered under our national health care system, some people choose to purchase private or provincial insurance to cover the difference.
The State of Long-Term Care in the US
The US has the Medicare system, which is government-funded insurance for residents 65 and older. Medicare is split into two main programs, Part A and Part B. According to the Medicare site, Part A is sometimes referred to as “premium-free Part A” because there is no monthly premium.4 Part B is based on a premium and covers medically necessary services and preventative services.5
Medicare covers most healthcare expenses, including prescription drugs and medical care, and plans are available to cover what’s not included. These plans are called Medicare Supplement Insurance plans or Medigap.
As in Canada, most long-term care expenses aren’t covered under Medicare, so many people choose to purchase long-term care insurance. Long-term care insurance may help cover the cost of care when someone can no longer take care of themselves due to a chronic medical condition, a disability, or a disorder/disease like Alzheimer’s. Depending on the long-term care insurance policy, it may cover care given at home, at a nursing home, at an assisted living facility, or at an adult daycare center.
How Extended Care in Canada and the US Compare
Overall, Canada is known to have a great health care system. US News and World Report ranked Canada #4 in their list of the top 10 countries that have the best public health care systems.6 But while the US might fall behind in health care for the general population, they catch up a bit when it comes to caring for older Americans.
Both countries offer government-funded programs for healthcare in retirement, but this coverage generally doesn’t include all of the expenses associated with extended care. Because of this, both Canadians and Americans turn to private insurance companies to cover the gap.
There is no denying that extended care is, and will continue to be, a considerable expense for Canadians and Americans. Understanding our country’s coverage can help you understand what coverage you may need.
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