Just five per cent of Ontarians account for 65 per cent of individual health care spending in the province, according to a study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

The three-year study also found that one per cent of Ontarians accounted for 33 per cent of all health care costs, with nearly $45,000 spent per person.

The costs included in the study amounted to $30.5 billion, or about 75 per cent of total government health spending.

Resources spent on high-cost health care users included hospitalization and long-term care. Physician visits, prescriptions and laboratory tests accounted for most of the spending on low-cost users of the public health care system, the study found.

The study’s lead author, Walter Wodchis, a senior scientist at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) and a researcher at the Institute for Health Policy Management and Evaluation, University of Toronto, said that increased health care spending is not unusual as Ontarians age.

“Most older people have three or more chronic conditions...and we're even seeing it happen in their 40s and 50s, where people do have two, three, or four chronic conditions,” he told CTV Toronto.

In adults between the ages of 18 and 64, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, atherosclerosis (a disease of the arteries) and palliative care were the top reasons for hospital admissions.

Among those over 65, the biggest health care costs included treatments for congestive heart failure, COPD, urinary tract infections and hip fractures.

When it comes to children, chemotherapy and treatments for conditions related to low birth weight were among the costliest services.

While Ontario’s clinics and hospitals provide good care, Wodchis said the difficulty is managing several illnesses at the same time. He said the province needs better co-ordination between different segments of the medical industry, as well as better education for patients.

With a report from CTV Toronto’s Pauline Chan