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  • The Canadian Patients’ Remedy for Health Care: Go to America!

    Canadians come to United States for health care

    One common assertion among the left is that other industrialized nations, such as Canada, achieved great success in health care within their collectivist framework. This, then, begs the question: why is the head of an east coast Canadian province coming to the United States for medical treatment?

    Newfoundland Premier Danny Williams is seeking heart surgery in the United States, drawing criticism from “local bloggers and people calling in to the province’s immensely popular open-line radio shows.” Yet his actions are hardly unusual for world leaders. Saudi Arabian King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz is known to have his checkups at the prestigious Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi had heart surgery at the Cleveland Clinic in 2006 . Even middle-class Canadians are utilizing their proximity to the United States to seek treatment here.

    A study by Steven Katz, Diana Verilli, and Morris Barer in Health Affairs examining the Ontario Health Insurance Plan from 1987 to 1995 found “evidence of cross-border care seeking for cardiovascular and orthopedic procedures, mental health services, and cancer treatments,” although not widespread. Examples include the governments of British Columbia and Quebec sending patients to the United States for coronary artery surgery and cancer treatment. Shona Holmes, a Kingston, Ontario resident in need of an endocrinologist and neurologist, crossed the border when she was told to wait “four months for one specialist and six months for the other.” Karen Jepp delivered identical quadruplets in Montana “because of a shortage of neonatal beds in Canada,” with the Calgary health system picking up the tab.

    Perhaps Canadians’ health care migration patterns are a result of their own centralized system of government health care planning and “free care” crashing into the government’s budget constraints. The annual study “Paying More: Getting Less“ produced by the Fraser Institute, a Canadian think tank, found that government-run monopolies established in each province of Canada (simultaneously barring private operators from competing for the delivery of public health services) produce rates of growth in government health care spending that are “not financially sustainable through public means alone.” Each province’s policy of insulating consumers from price signals, such as premiums, co-payments and deductibles, has naturally led to over-consumption of medical treatment. Thus provincial governments, encountering fiscal restraints, must resort to long queues and the rationing of care.

    And wait patients must. A hospital survey of five countries (United States, Canada, New Zealand, United Kingdom and Australia), conducted by Robert Blendon and colleagues in Health Affairs found that “waits of six months or more for elective surgeries were reported to occur ‘very often’ or ‘often’ by 26–57 percent of executives in the four non-U.S. countries; only 1 percent of U.S. hospitals reported this. Half of all Canadian hospitals reported an average waiting time of over six months for a 65-year-old male requiring a routine hip replacement; no American hospital administrators reported waits this long.

    Perhaps if Canadian provinces adopted a free-market approach to health care, more of their citizens (and politicians) would seek treatment within their borders. This leaves just one question: if the United States adopts government-run health care system, even remotely like that of Canada, with government control of benefits and financing, plus reams of rules specifying what we can and cannot get, which border are we going to cross to get the care we need?

    Vivek Rajasekhar currently is a member of the Young Leaders Program at the Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please visit: http://www.heritage.org/about/departments/ylp.cfm

    Posted in Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    24 Responses to The Canadian Patients’ Remedy for Health Care: Go to America!

    1. Randy,SA TX says:

      of course if you have the money u can get the best health care.but if you dont then u just die.capitalism at its best,that y they made up preexisting conditions so that big biz can make a healthy profit y we the happy consumer just take it with a smile.i would rather have goverment health care because u can hold them accountable for any mistakes but if its big biz then ur out of luck becuz big biz no one is held accountable for anything.

      • Jorge says:

        You're going to hold the government responsible??? Good luck suing them. Another government run entity that will eventually go broke life Social Security, Medicare, Postal service, etc

    2. Randy,SA TX says:

      whats going on with my blog being posted?

    3. T. Rand Collins PhD says:

      As physician executive who has practiced and been a patient in both the U.S. and Canada, I believe in the Canadian system and the right of our nation's citizens to complete health care. I think that spending as much for your health care as you do for your mortgage, as many Americans are forced to do, is wrong.

      There is a great deal of sniping back and forth across the border from those who would use both systems’ problems for their own political ends. Sadly, both systems are broken, but in different ways. The United States has excellent health care and world-class technology, but a significant part of the population cannot afford it. And another large segment of the population can just barely afford it, surrendering the equivalent of their mortgage each month just to be protected against a medical catastrophe. Canadians are privileged to receive complete care for a nominal cost – but you can wait a long time, and maybe get sicker, if you have a "Non-emergent" condition. But nobody goes without care because they cannot afford it. America is a great country- if you have money.

      Both countries need a mixture of public and private care. The most successful and economical health care systems elsewhere in the world have this mixture of public and private healthcare.

      For the moment, I am committing my time to assisting with medical travel for Canadians to the U.S. I do this because I want Canadians to have options if they are waiting for the medical services that they need, and I have joined one of the most established and respected companies in this field, International Health Care Providers, based in Windsor, Ontario. I am now engaged in bringing its services to western Canada.

      However, this does not change my commitment to the right of my nation's citizens to complete health care regardless of income. I look forward to the day when Canadians do not have to wait as they do now, and I know that this problem will be solved. In the meantime, I will continue to fill in the gaps.

      T. Rand Collins PhD MD

      Senior Vice President, Western Operations

      International Health Care Providers

      • Dau Tieng 59 says:

        The reason Canadians are not paying a mortgage payment for health care is that it is hidden in the other taxes. The escalation in medical costs out of the reach of the average American started when Medicare was brought in. Medical costs have risen fast than inflation ever since because you and I decode how to spend someone else's money on your or my healthcare. This is why it always costs more to have the government do it.
        With the "rotten" private insurance companies there is always somewhere to go for redress but with the government, you talk to the government to complain and have NO where else to go. When you appeal, you will more than likely be talking to the person, who initiated the rule in the first place.
        There is rumored among the medical community that many of the Doctors will be "retiring" when the "Affordable" Healthcare Act takes full effect. So you have 40M+ added to the demand (the uninsured) and 20-40% reduction in supply (Doctors) sounds like there maybe longer lines here than in Canada and the UK.

      • Duane King says:

        Dr. Collins, Then what you are saying is that my unemployed Son who needs hip replacement, can just come to Canada, check into a hos. room and thats it, FREE?

    4. Randy,SA TX says:

      of course if you have the money u can get the best health care.but if you dont then u just die.capitalism at its best,that y they made up preexisting conditions so that big biz can make a healthy profit y we the happy consumer just take it with a smile.i would rather have goverment health care because u can hold them accountable for any mistakes but if its big biz then ur out of luck becuz big biz no one is held accountable for anything.

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    6. Tod, Indiana says:

      I am surprised that the VP actually believes that the Canadian system can be fixed. As the article said,

      "Each province’s policy of insulating consumers from price signals, such as premiums, co-payments and deductibles, has naturally led to over-consumption of medical treatment. Thus provincial governments, encountering fiscal restraints, must resort to long queues and the rationing of care."

      It doesn't matter how much money you throw at the problem, in the end the health system will consume all of it. Then come the long lines if the government is paying for it.

      I think that one thing that is never discussed in the health care debate is the fact that everyone is going to die from something that can't be cured (or they die before they can reach the hospital for the cure). If you give the health system an infinite amount of money, they will continue to develop expensive cures to ailments that are currently uncurable. In the end, regardless of the amount of money spent, the health system will find a way to spend it. Any system without limits, will eventually go bankrupt.

      The only solution for this is for each individual to determine how much of their own money that they wish to spend on health care, and to determine for themselves when the cost of the cure is too much. For those that don't have much money, they may feel this is unfair, but in the end we will all die anyway. A better discussion on universal health care would be ensuring that everyone can receive the assistance that they need to die relatively painlessly, as opposed to being left on the street corner to die without assistance .

    7. Ryan, Toledo, OH says:

      Listen, everyone! Health Care is not a right!! Health Care costs money and if you want it someone must pay for it! I really don't care what 'other countries have' because they are not the US! Our country was founded on responsibility, motivation, hard work, and success! As an American it is my right to work hard and reap the rewards for my labor. Unfortunately, over the years, liberal socialists have convinced enough people that "you don't have to work hard for it, it's your right as an American!" THAT IS BULL SH!T

      You have to work for EVERYTHING if you want to call it yours! No one should be held responsible for your life but you! The US Declaration of Independence stated clearly that we have three inalienable rights 1) Life – to live! 2) Liberty – to live on our own! 3)Pursuit of Happiness – to work hard for and keep ALL that we gain so that we might enjoy life more!

      Health Care, housing, food, even trash pickup – these are all things that each individual should decide on their own how best to provide for themselves. To live in the greatest country on earth and think that you deserve certain “blessings” from your government simply because you were born here is the height of arrogance and foolishness!

    8. tommy The Great Stat says:

      Some people have been encourged by our gov.to let us give you everything……..Welfare is good for people that really need it……If someone can't do for theirselvies,we should help them…..i have always bought everthing i have had,,,,i have worked everysince i was 17…….don't want no gov. handout…..i believe in working for what you get……

    9. Mike Brosch, Cave Cr says:

      An aspect to all this that is seldom discussed, is how quickly people become dependent on any services provided by the government, and how blindly they guard, what they see as, "their right."
      This year, as a result of Obama hiring 78,000 people, 52% of all union members in the US now work for the government. In the UK, the health care industry is the largest employer in the country. The effect is to functionally dilute options open to the voting pool to a single party.

    10. Jacques Giroux Atlan says:

      Sorry but most of the folks here are talking through their hats… Being from Quebec but now living in the USA, i can tell you first hand that the services in the province have gotten so bad that the Quebec Governement has now allowed private clinics to provide services but of course you must pay out of your pocket.The Gvmt subsidised HC is not free either and the middle class (over 100K per year) wind up in a 53% taxe bracket in order to pay for all of these and other Social programs espoused by the province. So be very careful what you wish for…!!!

    11. JamesS, Washington, says:

      Basically, this is how it works in the US: if you have health insurance, you get whatever you need, right now. Need an MRI? Call the local clinic, they'll get you in within a couple of days. Any working stiff with basic health insurance gets this level of treatment.

      If you don't have health insurance because you don't have a job that offers it as a benefit? You go to the local hospital emergency room where they cannot turn you away for not having insurance. This drives up health care costs for the rest of us and acts as a hidden tax that we pay to fund those without insurance. Still, it provides a better level of health care than waiting 10 months for a maternity bed.

      Now if the brainiacs that supposedly run the country could figure out a way to provide for the second group while leaving the rest of us alone, we might just have the best of both worlds. But no, they want to drag all of us down into the morass of socialized health care so that we can all wait for that maternity bed.

      Ugh.

    12. MikeC says:

      Ryan, Toledo, OH and other single minded masses.

      We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain Unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

      These are thing guaranteed protection by the Government in the United States Declaration of Independence. It was Life, Liberty and Property, but protection of "property" as a goal of government was replaced by happiness.

      How do you protect and preserve Life?

      You blather on and on and even claim “Our country was founded on responsibility, motivation, hard work, and success!” Really? We should get right to it and strip out Article 1, Section 8, Clause 4 of the Constitution that allows for Bankruptcy Code written into The United States Code. Who do these people and corporations think they are?!? Nothing but a bunch of weak pathetic loser and freeloaders…you owe it, you pay it…you sunk it, you go down with the ship 100% completely liable…with penalties and interest.

      It is odd how we protect and preserve money, when a person or company can be protected by financial ruin due to making poor personal/business decisions, and cannot be given public healthcare to protect against illness that would wipe a person or family out. How many would work harder, reach further, dare to go beyond their safety zone if they knew they and their family will never lose healthcare, and that an illness will not wipe out their hopes and dreams of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. How many small businesses would start up and flourish? People want to work hard, public healthcare will give them the foundation. The lazy and ignorant already abuse the system with Medicaid and welfare. Why not allow the same means to people who are not lazy and ignorant. Did you ever think public healthcare could be used by the right wing as well? With Every CITIZEN of the United States will be provided Health Care be it private or public, then Every citizen will have documentation providing such…Illegal aliens will not. The hospital policy for ER will change, visits with NO ID/Health Insurance will be eliminated and illegal’s without coverage will be located and deported. Who needs a big wall?

    13. Pingback: Destroying Socialized Medicine Abroad at Awkward Utopia

    14. tom conten palm spri says:

      There are far more Americans going to Canada for treatment than the reverse. Over 83% of Canadians are happy with their healthcare. My family pays $1,500 a month for its healthcare in the U.S. That's $18,000 a year which would be considered a monstrous tax increase to most Americans.

      Rich Politicians and Saudi Princes going to the Mayo Clinic are not an everyday occurrenece but the wealthy have a right to a lot more of everything than the common man.

      There should be a wait for elective surgeries. Critical surgeries should come first. My cousin in Canada is waiting 5 months for a hip replacement after She herself put off the procedure for over 3 years. She also had a 3 month wait for cataract surgery that had a 5 year period of development. Neither surgery cost her 5 cents.

      I would take the Canadian plan in a minute. The wealthy in this country are trying to convince the little guy that Canadian-type plans are bad for us because the American system is so good for the rich.

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    16. Jeff, Canada says:

      You dont know a thing about the Canadian healthcare system. You would be lucky to find 100 Canadians that would trade our system for your pathetic system. Do some research before you write that garbage.

    17. CzechAmerican, Danbu says:

      Please let me chime in this perenial discussion, i.e. Canadian (and most of the oter industrialized countrie) vs. US health care system. I know something about communist-era healtcare system as we managed to escape from Czechoslovakia 30 years ago, settling down in the US. I have been follwing healthare here in the US for those 30 years, starting with my oldest son's mononucleosis at Cleveland Clinic not covered by insurance as I coud not, as consulting engineer afford COBRA after being laid off. For decade and half we, with 2 small children were "naked", i.e. w/o insurance. Paying routine expenses out of pocket, dtto dental, kids contact lenses etc. Besides nononucleosis we had one serious emergency: son at age 10 damaged his knee when sleding (the tree was stronger than his knee). # days in hospital about $5K back in 1988. Would I recomment this (w/o nsurance) to anyone? Absolutely no, although we were lucky + didnt become part of about 2.5 mil household (out of about 3.2 mil) who are on annual basis forced to file bancruptcy due to physician/hospital collection of bills. My current wife is a physician (anesthesiology), so I also went w her though residency, boards, etc. We have now 3 smaller kids, Ivy League teaching hospital has for sure above average HMO, yet out of pocket and uncovered expenses (no electives) add up still. Lastly, I am now studying for MHA (Masters in Health Administration), also spending the whole 90s in WDC, familiar with numerous discussions, initiatives, arguments and attempt to do something with US healtcare system, comparables with Western countries, etc., run medical tourism to post-com countries, etc. etc. Happened to have this semester Helth Policy + Law, Management of HC Organisation, as Obama-led reform suceeded to get OKed by the Congress. Can tell our friend on the right and fierce, yes often zealot opponents of any bona-fide reform which will, 140 years after Bissmark etc. give every citizen of still the richest country in the world which we are so pround off truly available health care without financial ruination, while – especially again for those concerned about costs – bringing share of GDP spend on it closer to the comparable Western countries (i.e. not twice as much as we spend now, 17% vs 8 or 9 % GDP. Sadly, I never hear from GOP and the right how they can live, not complin about our "free market" being twice as much expensive while delivering at most of the criteria worse results.See extensive, 30 pages long report here: http://www.annals.org/content/148/1/55.full

    18. allen tulgan says:

      canadians do not come to the usa for health care

    19. Jack says:

      BLAH BLAH BLAH. Basically, I am married to a US citizen. I have yet to get onto her health care via her company. In the meantime, I needed to see a doctor for a pain I was having, seems I needed a social security card to be taken on as a new patient, because I can't go to the hospital for a non-emergency without a referral from a doctor. In Canada, I can walk into any hospital and expect to be seen within a period of time of course. The US system is flawed beyond reason. Sure, in Canada, our system is flawed too, but at least we're seen and afforded basic care if needed. All you have it the US is an outdated system that has been taken over by private corporations.

    20. Sparkle says:

      I live in Ontario and was okay with the healthcare system until I started suffering from a health issue. I was moved around in the system from specialist to specialist, waiting over 6 months to see each person. I finally saw someone who pin-pointed the issue. I've now been dealing with this issue for 4 years and it's worse than it initially was. I was told I need surgery to fix it, but since it's not life threatening it's considered an "elective" procedure and the min wait is 18-24 months. I've had to put off having kids, and I live in pain every day. I called a doctor in the US – and was told the max wait for surgery (if he's willing to take me on as a patient) would be a couple of weeks. In my case, the system in Canada has failed me and I'll be taking my hard earned dollars across the border to have my issue dealt with in a timely fashion. My dad's actually a practicing surgeon in Africa and I'm sorry to say at times the Canadian healthcare system is just as bad as healthcare in less fortunate countries.

    21. Matt Koegler says:

      When they studied it, it turns out only 0.5% of Canadians used the American Healthcare system, and of that, less than 25% (1/8 of 1% or 0.125%) traveled to the US for that purpose alone. The rest just had to go when something happened while they were here for business or pleasure. The entire "Canadians are flooding to American Hospitals and Doctors!" line is easily dismissed when one studies the facts.

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