sick in Canada?

Jun 17th, 2006, 08:13 PM
Original Poster
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sick in Canada?

This might seem like a strange question, but if an American is traveling in Canada and becomes ill, would they be able to be treated by a local doctor? I know Canada has a different system of healthcare so I'm just wondering what would happen in that scenario.
PollyR is offline  
Jun 17th, 2006, 08:19 PM
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If you don't have travel insurance to cover medical expenses in Canada, then you'd have to pay.
I know of someone who had to pay a very large medical bill when they became sick in Canada.
kodi is offline  
Jun 17th, 2006, 08:22 PM
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My medical insurance says they cover illness when traveling to other countries so that shouldn't be a problem, but I've heard stories that there are long waits but I suppose that's for residents?
PollyR is offline  
Jun 17th, 2006, 08:25 PM
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You can purchase visitor medical insurance. I know that the Automobile Association sells it and you can buy it for the length of your visit. Not a bad idea. I had a friend visiting from the US and she got appendicitis. Fortunately she had the insurance and everything was covered including the hospital stay.
traveller69 is offline  
Jun 18th, 2006, 03:58 AM
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Polly, unfortunately we just experienced that scenario while vacationing in Newfoundland in May. My husband was able to see a local doctor at a hospital ER and obtain testing. They took his insurance information, but the billing was charged to our credit card. To their credit, the billing department offered to delay posting the charges until after we returned to the states so that those bills wouldn't affect our credit limit. We still are in limbo as to what our insurance provider will pay for, although we are supposedly covered.....
Retired_teacher is offline  
Jun 18th, 2006, 05:16 AM
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Polly, the long waits are for tests and procedures.
In an emergency situation, you would not have to wait, except for a few hours , perhaps.
kodi is offline  
Jun 18th, 2006, 06:38 AM
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We had a similar experience in Calgary.
My wife came down with some ailment shortly after we arrived at the hotel.
There was a "Doc in the Box" type of clinic in a shopping center about half a mile from the hotel. Although it was late, my wife was examined and obtained a prescription which we filled right away at a local drugstore.

Granted this was not something as serious as a ruptured appendix, but it was potentially a trip spoiler.

We were charged less relatively speaking than we would have been charged in the US. Our medical insurance paid for some of it.

bob_brown is offline  
Jun 18th, 2006, 07:38 AM
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A couple of years ago, I was injured (not very badly) in a fall in Toronto. I went to the emergency room of a nearby hospital. They were willing to treat me but very knidly suggested I would save considerable expense by going instead to a neighborhood clinic a few blocks away.

I did, was seen immediately, had four stitches in my chin, and was charged only $30 (Canadian), which my insurance reimbursed after I got home.

I noticed no difference between Canadian and US except that I was seen more quickly and charged less than I would have been in the US.
dwooddon is online now  
Jun 18th, 2006, 12:04 PM
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In an emergency, you will be seen VERY quickly in the emergency department. If you turn up at the emergency department with say a sprained ankle, you may (depending on how busy it is) have to wait a few hours. Like all emergency departments Canadian emergency departments practice triage - the sicker you are, the faster you get seen.) As others have mentioned there are also private walk-in clinics where with less severe problems (say a sore throat), you will probably be seen faster than in emerg. At walk-in clinics it really depends on how many people are ahead of you.
In a real emergency (broken bones, chest pains, asthma attack), I would go to the emergency department. For a sore throat I would go to a private walk-in clinic.
semiramis is offline  
Jun 18th, 2006, 01:09 PM
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You all seem to have had better experiences in Canadian hospitals than I have. Once in emergency I saw a woman in the waiting room who was doubled over in pain. Five hours later she was still there. At the same time, I thought someone from outside the country was going to be charged $150 or so just to be seen by a doctor. That was some years ago so my memory is fuzzy but they waited so long that by morning they decided to go to a clinic instead. Another time I watched a man wait while blood dripped on the floor from his foot. He got tired of waiting and finally hobbled out of the hospital. Nobody even noticed until they eventually went looking for him. A maintenance man was called in to mop up the mess... so the floor got quicker treatment than the patient.
April is offline  
Jun 19th, 2006, 04:12 AM
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April, I'm a bit unclear as to whether your post contains any personal experience or repeats hearsay. Regardless, I would not consider $150 Canadian an out-of-line cost for seeing a doctor in an emergency room setting, which incidently was what we were charged at the Norris Point facility last month. During three separate visits to two different facilities over a four day time span, we were treated very professionally and our wait time was under a half hour in each instance. I was very impressed with both facilities.
Retired_teacher is offline  
Jun 19th, 2006, 11:28 AM
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There was actually an article in Maclean's magazine (sort of a Time knock-off) about US citizens coming to Canada for vacation, needing medical treatment and leaving without paying and the provincial health care systems end up footing the bill. The most common response when these people were tracked down was "isn't health care in Canada free?" Yeah, for people living in Canada! And I don't know where some of these ER horror stories are coming from, but I've never seen anything like that and I work in health care. You might wait a while for an MRI but you wouldn't be left bleeding in the hallway of the hospital.
loru100 is offline  
Jun 19th, 2006, 01:05 PM
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I agree with loru (I have worked in hospitals and I have been an emergency room patient).
My experience:
I arrived in emerg having an asthma attack with major breathing problems - I was seen by a doctor in literally less than one minute and receiving treatment immediately even though there were at least 20 people ahead of me. (All of them were breathing.)
On another occasion, I arrived with abdominal pain (quite painful). At the same time car accident victims with severe injuries arrived and as was TOTALLY APPROPRIATE, I had to wait while they were seen to first. I was not going to die without immediate care - they were. This is how triage works - which is why for minor complaints I recommend going to a Walk-In clinic if you are a visitor.
semiramis is offline  
Jun 19th, 2006, 04:42 PM
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Wait times in the emergency department will vary from province to province and within the larger cities. When I lived in Toronto, the best emerg to go to was at a downtown teaching hospital that didn't happen to be on the main ambulance routes. You'd be seen quickly and competently.

Some of this has to do with how well triage works in individual hospitals. Right now in BC there are quite a few situations happening that are similar to what April describes. The two larger hospitals in Victoria are a mess in terms of triage. I work in health care too, and part of my job is on one of the surgical floors in a Victoria hospital. The care on the floor is excellent, but I've seen first-hand what can go on in emerg, and it's appalling, to say the least. There are varying explanations for this and none of them are entirely satisfactory, but much of it has to do with poor staffing.

If you become ill while travelling in Canada, I would start with a walk-in clinic if that's at all reasonable (not reasonable in the case of serious acute illness, obviously) and if that's not possible, prepare to wait. But you will definitely get treated eventually.
Meesthare is offline  
Jun 19th, 2006, 07:31 PM
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Retired_teacher, as I said, "I saw a woman..." and "I watched a man..." These were things I witnessed as I was waiting for hours and hours in Emergency.

You got it, Meesthare, it was Victoria. In the case of the man with the bleeding foot, I watched the Triage person at great length and was amazed at how she never looked up from her desk. Sometimes I feel like we're in a third world country.
April is offline  
Jun 21st, 2006, 06:33 PM
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I live in Calgary, so I pay taxes and I expect my healthcare to be adequate; triage for emergencies, regular family doctors for yearly care and walk-in clinics for my visitors (such as a child who who suddenly has an ear infection at 10: p.m.0
I have been in emergency many times with my children and husband. I did ONE time see a young man, dropped of by his "friends", who was going into shock (shaking, blue white lips) from burns on his hand. He had been parked in a seat with a basin of ice water. Treated but not attended. I made a lot of fuss. And he got the gurney and blanket and so on. If you ever again watch a man bleeding for hours with the receptionist ignoring him, make some noise!

And those of you who don't pay Canadian taxes, get insurance as I do when I travel outside of Canada. Keep the receipts. It can become a tax deduction (in Canada).
everittp is offline  
Jun 12th, 2007, 01:28 PM
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you should buy the travel insurance, especially in the case of emergency medical evacuation, it is very costly. Try to get a quote here , you can get all the quotes from various suppliers.
domchanbj is offline  
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