Kudos to the Globe and Mail for running this latest piece in their series on end of life issues. As Canada’s population ages along with the rest of the Western world, death will consume more and more of our health care dollars. Personally I welcome the discussion this article invites. While I worry that an economic analysis like this could lead us toward the sort of future envisioned by P.D. James in The Children of Men, where the aged are invited to quietly (and cheaply) off themselves, the reality is that Canada is looking at 300-400,000 deaths a year by the 2030s, when I will likely be approaching the end of my lifespan. With current costs of $30K+ for terminal illnesses or death from old age, that’s a lot of money. Perhaps, as the article suggests, more frankness and honesty as to how we want to die (eg, “do not resuscitate’ or “no heroic measures” instructions) could be a good first step in making health (and death) care sustainable for the future. MP+

How much does dying cost Canadians?
lisa priest
From Tuesday’s Globe and Mail
Published Monday, Nov. 28, 2011 8:44PM EST
Last updated Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2011 10:35AM EST

Of all the financially grim statistics confronting Canadian health care, this ranks among the grimmest: About 25 per cent of all health-care costs are devoted to caring for patients in their last year of life.

Provincial governments are scrambling to contain health-care spending, even as an aging population begins to place increasing demands on the system. Yet there is also a growing recognition among policy makers that they cannot make efficient spending decisions without a better understanding of the economics of death.

Whole article here.