Are more and more Canadians leaving the country to seek medical in the United States or somewhere else? A new report from the right-wing think tank the Fraser Institute suggests that thousands of Canadians went somewhere else in 2011 for healthcare.
Many proponents of socialized medicine state that Canada has one of the greatest healthcare systems in the world. But if you ask more than 40,000 Canadians who left the country last year to seek medical treatment elsewhere around the world, they may have a differing opinion.
According to a report from the Fraser Institute, 46,169 Canadians sought “superior quality care” and to avoid the risk of disability or to save their own lives by getting healthcare treatment somewhere else. Some were prompted because of a “lack of available resources or a lack of appropriate procedure [or] technology.”
The provinces to see an increase of patients leaving Canada to get healthcare internationally were British Columbia (9,180), Saskatchewan (1,221) and Manitoba (1,436). Provinces in Atlantic Canada also saw modest increases. Meanwhile, Ontario (18,172) was the only province to have a decrease of patients exiting the country due to healthcare reasons.
The estimated number of patients mostly received treatment outside of Canada for general surgery (5,829), Ophthalmology (5,414), Internal Medicine (4,271), Urology (3,836) and Orthopaedic Surgery (2,854). Other reasons included Cardiovascular Surgery, Neurosurgery and Gynaecology.
“Understanding how many Canadians receive their health care in another country each year gives some insight into the state of health care in Canada, as well as the state of medical tourism among Canadian residents,” stated Nadeem Esmail, the study author. “Data on this topic are not readily available but an estimation is possible using annual wait times data from the Fraser Institute and the numbers of procedures performed in Canada from the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI).”
This study comes as 2012 Alberta Wildrose Party candidate John Carpay recently challenged the province's healthcare system by filing an application to be able to purchase private health insurance for medically necessary services in the province, which is illegal due to the Canada Health Act of 1984. Carpay filed the application in the Court of Queen's Bench.
“Since the Alberta government is unable or unwilling to get rid of the waiting list, it must allow people to access health care outside of the government monopoly,” said Carpay, reports the Sun News Network.
“Currently, the government monopoly is inflicting massive suffering on tens of thousands of Albertans who are now, as we speak, waiting for surgery. When you have thousands of people living in a state of pain or unable to work, it's costing the Canadian economy billions every year because of people who can't work because they're waiting for surgery.”
Carpay further added that a two-tier system would be the solution to the nation’s healthcare issues, while pointing to the models of France, Germany and Switzerland. He noted that they do not have waiting lists due to the private healthcare options available.