AG outlines health funding

Staff writer
January 23, 2013 01:00 AM

Auditor General John Doyle released a public information piece Jan. 17, documenting the revenues and expenditures of B.C.'s health-care system, titled Health Funding Explained.

During the 2011/12 fiscal year $15.5 billion was spent on health care in the province, almost 40 per cent of the B.C. government's budget. There are a number of different funding models used to deliver health-care service to residents.

"The health-care system in B.C. is large and complicated," said Doyle in a news release. "The objective of this initiative was to study the in-and-out flows of funding through the Ministry of Health and the Health Authorities. In effect, we followed the money."

This information piece isn't a traditional audit; rather, it is designed to help the public and legislators understand how these health-care dollars are spent.

For example, of the Ministry of Health's $15.5-billion budget, $12.6 billion went to regional health authorities, which in turn spent $7.4 billion on acute care. Other significant expenditures include payments to physicians and supplementary healthcare professionals ($3.8 billion) and the PharmaCare prescription drug program ($1 billion).

The piece also illuminated places where very little was spent. Population Health and Wellness, the spending area most closely associated with disease and poor health prevention, incurred less than five per cent of total health-care expenditures ($536 million). This is despite the fact that promoting healthy well-being and preventing disease has been a major theme in every throne speech since 2008.

In addition, HealthLinkBC, a program that provides health information to the public via phone, their website and printed materials like the BC Health Guide, only accounted for $31 million of the health budget.

While Health Funding Explained aims to help people gain a high level of understanding of the health-care system, Doyle said more work needs to be done to truly unwind its complexity.

"In future, my office may go more in-depth to further explain where and how our province's health-care dollars are being spent," he said.

- Submitted

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