SOURCE: Canadian Health Policy Institute

Canadian Health Policy Institute (CHPI)

September 15, 2014 06:00 ET

Study of 67 Countries Shows Government Is Way Off Target With Cost-Containment Focus on Medical Devices in Canada: Canadian Health Policy Institute (CHPI)

TORONTO, ON--(Marketwired - September 15, 2014) -  New research published by the Canadian Health Policy Institute (CHPI) shows that when compared to most other countries, medical device expenditures are a much smaller burden on health spending in Canada and are much more affordable relative to the size of the economy.

The CHPI study found that on average from 2008 to 2013, of the 67 countries for which data were available, Canada ranked 56th when measuring medical device spending as a percentage of total health spending.

In per capita terms, medical device spending in Canada declined from 3.55% of total health spending in 2008 to 3.11% in 2013 averaging only 3.41% over the period.

Canada ranked as low as 35th for medical device spending as a percentage of the total economy or gross domestic product (GDP). On a per capita basis, medical device spending accounted for only 0.37% of GDP in Canada on average over the period 2008 to 2013.

The study also compared Canada more narrowly to a smaller group of its peers among the OECD top 25 countries with the highest GDP per capita in 2013. The data showed that over the entire period from 2008 to 2013, Canada ranked below the average of its peers in the OECD for medical device spending per capita, medical device spending as a percentage of total health spending and medical device spending as a percentage of GDP.

The findings are important because, despite the small cost-burden associated with spending on medical devices in Canada, significant public resources are nevertheless spent by governments to assess the cost-effectiveness of medical technologies and to ration or restrict patients' access to treatment using these new technologies in order to control healthcare costs. By contrast, policy makers devote proportionately much less effort to assessing the cost-effectiveness of other much larger components of healthcare spending.

The study concludes that given the tiny proportional impact of medical device spending, cost containment efforts targeting medical devices in Canada are not likely to produce large overall savings on total healthcare costs. The findings strongly suggest that the resources and political effort invested in containing the costs of medical technology would be more likely to produce a bigger total cost-savings return if redirected toward targets that account for much larger shares of total expenditure.

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The study, Medical devices and healthcare costs in Canada and 66 other countries, 2008 to 2013, was published at CHPI's free access online journal, Canadian Health Policy and can be downloaded at: or

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Canadian Health Policy Institute (CHPI) is dedicated to conducting, publishing and communicating evidence-based socio-economic research on health system performance and health policy issues that are important to Canadians.

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