Traveling for medical reasons is becoming more and more common and accepted in North America. People go outside their local area to get medical help faster and for less. In Canada, according to the latest report by Fraser Institute, more than 60,000 Canadians received non-emergency medical treatment outside the country in 2016 – an increase over 40% over 2015.  Although the report doesn’t analyze where these clients go, there is a chance the majority of them end up across the South border, at the US clinics and hospitals. Why so? There are a number of reasons to travel to the US to get better.

  1. Physical proximity

For some Canadian provinces, US is only a drive away, and many clinics along the Northern US border have been catering for years to Canadians trying to get faster diagnostics or specialist help. Many major US cities, New York, Chicago, and Seattle are a short flight away and medical expertise is available almost immediately.

Proximity to medical facilities is not only a matter of convenience; it is a health safety issue. Increased risk of DVT is a hazard for anyone flying or driving over 4 hours. It affects people who recently had surgery and are returning home as well. With medical tourism on the rise, India and China are becoming top destinations for medical travelers; however, those are incredibly long flights for a Canadian. Center for Disease Control and Prevention in the USA warns American citizens of a possible association between travel of over 4 hours and increased risk of DVTs. The risk is caused mainly by prolonged limited mobility and is applicable to long travel by car or bus.

  1. No language barrier and few cultural differences

Communicating with your doctor and nurse in the same language is essential. Although medical staff in other countries speaks English, there are still existing cultural differences in place that may affect the overall patient experience. USA and Canada seem to have enjoyed years of being peaceful neighbors and share similar values. Although the cultural differences do exist, they are not major.

Upon discharge, it is wise to have all your medical records in the language of your home country. Since there are no language issues between the two countries, those are easily compiled and passed on. In addition, the patient’s primary physician is a phone call away, should anything need to be discussed in follow up care, or if a primary care physician needs more information from a doctor who performed the procedure.

  1. Faster access to medical advances

Medical discoveries and advances no doubt happen in many countries. For example, insulin treatments and blood-forming stem cells discoveries were Canadian medical scientists’ accomplishments.  However, since in the US healthcare is a business, there is no rationing of medical services and more resources can pour into new medical equipment and training that sometimes occurs in Canada at a slower rate. Larger population of the US also warrants more opportunities for application of some new medical discoveries that affect a smaller percentage of the population, such as rare diseases.

  1. Nearly identical medical standards

Graduates of Canadian medical schools are not considered “foreign medical graduates” and their residency training in Canada is considered equivalent to residency training in the US.  Generally, if a Canadian physician has a provincial license, she can obtain a US license in the state she intends to work. The same applies to the US trained doctors in Canada – they are not considered an international medical graduate. This implies that general standards in training and knowledge are very much the same in both countries. This is very comforting to all Canadians choosing the US for their medical treatment – they will get the same quality if they were at home, but without the wait.

Receiving medical care in countries other than the US and Canada can have its implications. The government of Canada warns its citizens that:

  • Some countries’ medical services may not test blood for blood-borne infections like HIV or hepatitis B. There can also be a risk of acquiring malaria from local blood banks in areas where malaria is present. Avoid injections or blood transfusions except in an emergency.
  • Be aware that there are multi-drug resistant bacteria in hospitals and other health care facilities around the world.
  • Vulnerable people may be coerced into donating their organs without their full consent. As a result, “transplant tourism” and selling organs are illegal in many countries.[1]
  1. Importance of follow-up care

Follow up care is often not provided in many Caribbean countries of medical tourism. For example, physical therapy is essential in recovery for cardiac and orthopedic patients. This reason alone is enough not to go to a hospital that doesn’t provide it. Health Vantis works with hospitals and facilities in the US that will start physical therapy right after surgery if a patient is in his/her room before 3 pm and will continue twice a day until the patient is discharged. Health Vantis also makes sure our clients have physical therapy arranged at home prior to them getting home.

  1. Clear legal recourse

Although this part is something that we want to avoid at all costs, malpractice happens in all counties. The legal recourse is, however, very hard to obtain in many counties. In the US all doctors carry malpractice insurance. The legal recourse is defined in a clear way and is available in case something goes wrong.

These 6 factors help Canadians decide where to go for their medical treatment in a case that the wait is too long or a treatment is not available in Canada. However, many Canadians are wary of the high cost of medical services in the US and are holding back because it is simply too expensive. Health Vantis works with facilities that are affordable and adhere to high standards not only in positive outcomes but patient experience. The pricing Health Vantis offers is comparable, if not better, to the pricing in the Caribbean Islands or other exotic destinations. If you are interested in finding out more about a certain procedure and its cost, please contact Health Vantis today at toll free 1-877-344-3544 or by email info@healthvantis.ca

[1] https://travel.gc.ca/travelling/health-safety/care-abroad