How Many People In Canada Travel For Medical Care
The Fraser Institute conducts surveys on an annual basis for specialists. The specialists are asked to provide data on the care their patients receive. This research always produces an estimation of how long our wait times are but another area they also gain insights into are how many people in Canada travel for medical care outside of our borders.
The question asked on the survey is: ‘Approximately what percentage of your patients received non-emergency medical treatment in the past 12 months outside of Canada’. (1) The number reported was 63,459 for 2017. This survey is only sent to doctors in 12 specialties, those which have been documented to have the longest wait times. If all specialties are not surveyed, that could mean, perhaps, that there are more than 63,459 Canadians leaving for medical care.
What were the reported reasons someone might travel for medical care? (*all reasons listed provided by Fraser Institute survey results)
⁃The inability to get quality care in a timely manner
⁃They have been sent out of the country by the public system due to lack of available resources or the procedure or equipment was not provided in their home jurisdiction
⁃ Concerns about quality and are seeking more advanced health care facilities, state of the art medical technologies or better outcomes
⁃To avoid some of the adverse medical consequences of waiting for care. Those could include worsening of their condition, poorer outcomes following treatment, disability or death.
⁃To avoid a delay and make a quicker return to normal life.
Canadians may leave the country for medical treatment that is not reported for this survey’s purpose. Those could include dental care or cosmetic surgery. These 2 are considered elective and not covered by the public health care system. Services like these can also be very expensive in Canada, prompting individuals to look outside of the Canadian borders for cheaper prices.
Medical travel has been around for centuries. It has gained increasing popularity in the US due to the cost of healthcare businesses face. While health care is expensive in the US, there are many facilities that can provide affordable prices. More and more surgical centers are following this trend to be competitive and lie right across the border. There are no statistics out there to indicate where most Canadians travel for medical care, however, the US has been known to be the most popular destination due to its close proximity.