April 23, 2005


Private healthcare business booming (Tom Blackwell, April 23, 2005, National Post)

Patients fed up with long waiting lists in Canada are fuelling a fast-growing demand for brokerages that arrange speedy service in the United States as well as in Quebec's burgeoning for-profit medical industry.

Brokers and other similar companies say business has as much as tripled over the past year as Canadians apparently become more comfortable with paying for diagnostic tests, second opinions and even surgery.

They say their patients include not only the wealthy but also middle-class people willing to take out second mortgages or lines of credit to pay for faster care.

Driving the move are Canada's lengthy waiting lists for many medical procedures. A study last year found Canadians waited an average of 8.4 weeks from their general practitioner's referral to an appointment with a specialist in 12 different medical specialties, then waited another 9.5 weeks for their treatment. Those wait times are almost double what a similar study found in 1993.

An increasing number of patients looking to skirt the public system are being referred to physicians in Quebec's private health care sector, where operations such as hip replacements can be bought out of pocket -- and where the federal government has done little to intervene.

Patients approach the agencies in need of everything from joint replacements to diagnostic work and cancer treatment.

The number that OneWorld Medicare of B.C. sends to the United States for at least a consultation has jumped three-fold over the past 12 months, while the company fielded twice as many inquiries between January and March as it did in all of 2004.

"We have seen a very large growth in the last year," said Mike Starko of OneWorld.

"We shouldn't have to be sending people down to the U.S., we really shouldn't. But that's the unfortunate reality at this point."

Meanwhile, those poor Dutch immigrants think they're headed to a developed nation.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 23, 2005 3:08 PM

That's what I find so amusing about socialized medicine: the poor suffer the most. The purpose of socialism is to spread out the misery to all equally. The only chink in the Canadian system is the private system next door.

Posted by: Tom C., Stamford, Ct. at April 23, 2005 4:56 PM

I get my appointments here in Canada and treatments - if they are speedily available. all paid for by the government. When there's an extended wait required, I take a trip across the border for immediate care, which I then deduct from my taxes as a medical expense - gas, food & hotel bills included.

Thus it turns out that the Canadian government does pay in part for those American expenses as well, plus I get to avoid other Canadian taxes by buying cheap gas, liquor, beer and cigarettes - among other items.

Unintended consequences. . .

Posted by: oswald booth czolgosz at April 23, 2005 7:23 PM

Quebec has private care??

How did that happen?

I thought an Indian tribe wanted to set up a private clinic and some bureaucrat was going to use the courts to stop that because there can't be any private care.

Posted by: Sandy P at April 23, 2005 9:22 PM

Seems like a deal to me: we get cheap drugs and they get quick trips to specialists and MRIs. Ha!

Posted by: ratbert at April 23, 2005 10:04 PM

Quebec has some private care with no objection from the federales in Ottawa. Alberta & BC had some, but had to close them down after being fined by the federales.

Can you guess where the Prime Ministers of Canada come from? Hint - they speak French!

Posted by: oswald booth czolgosz at April 23, 2005 10:26 PM

BTW, there are 4 categories of Canadians who meed not wait & go to the head of the line for medical treatment:

1. Professional athletes

2. Politicians.

3. High-ranking union officials

4. Incarcerated ne'er-do-wells.

Welcome to socialized medicine, brought to you by the Canadian Left.

Posted by: Oswald booth czolgosz at April 23, 2005 10:29 PM

And the title of the post is a reference to the movie The Barbarian Invasions. Don't I win a book for being the first to point that out? I seem to remember something like that....

And to Mr Czolgosz: Another unintended consequence: the money Canadians spend on health care in the US helps raise the figures for US health care expenditures, thus providing ammunition for those who think we should have socialized medicine to lower our costs.

Posted by: PapayaSF at April 24, 2005 1:12 AM


Send your address, I'll send a book.

Posted by: oj at April 24, 2005 9:08 AM