Canadians Medical Tourism

Why do Canadians travel to another country for medical care?

January 21, 2022

Canadians along with people from other countries are seeking medical assistance outside their country of origin. Many are looking for an economical alternative, while others look for a doctor who can offer the best results. Canadians have been seeking treatment in Europe, the United States, Mexico, and various other countries that can meet their expectations.

While some are searching for a specialized treatment, others are looking into elective cosmetic or bariatric surgeries. In addition, there are others who are looking for the best treatments to combat diseases like cancer and infertility or to get a procedure done earlier than the national healthcare system will allow.

Two of the most prominent reasons Canadians choose medical tourism is to shorten appointment wait times and get alternative treatments. In Canada, citizens typically have to wait longer to be seen than if they travel abroad.

What does the Canadian Medicare plan do for medical tourism?

Whether for critical medical care, cosmetic surgery, specialty treatment, or to avoid long wait times, Canadians look abroad for a solution. In Canada, the publicly funded single payer health care system is called Canadian Medicare. Although it is quite comprehensive, Canadian Medicare is cost conscience when delivering treatments and the wait times can be very long. 65-75% of Canadians purchase a supplementary health insurance product when insured by the universal healthcare provided by the Canadian Health Act.

One recent prostate cancer patient who is over 70 was faced with the decision to be castrated in Canada or travel outside his country to receive a more desirable cancer treatment. We have seen Canadians pay up to $350,000 of their own money for quality care that would not be provided in Canada or would involve a wait that would jeopardize their health. Also, procedural costs can be minimized in foreign currencies, and traveling abroad gives the ability to have treatment sooner.

The financing system for Canadian healthcare is funded by the 13 provinces and territories. Each has its own health insurance plan and each receives federal government funding support. However, there is no nationally defined mandatory benefit package. That is why many Canadians, including those who on a smaller budget, tend to look to other countries for the monetary savings that can benefit them when receiving medical treatment that may not be covered by Canadian Medicare.

Since dental and optical health are not included in Canadian Medicare, Canadians seek to receive this type of treatment abroad too. Various procedures in this class are sought by medical tourists from Canada, including orthodontic and reconstructive surgery.

Similarly, bariatric surgery for surgical weight loss assistance is another significant procedure that Canadians will travel to obtain. They can travel to Mexico and Venezuela, where costs are much lower for this elective procedure.

Finally, those in chronic pain from the need to have a hip replacement, knee replacement, other joint replacement or other ailments, will pay out of pocket to obtain care sooner.

Approximately 400,000 – 500,000 people living in Canada are without health insurance. They could be landed immigrants, which mandates a three-month waiting period before provincial benefits kick in. They could also be temporary foreign workers, refugees or people seeking asylum. So, the uninsured may also have a significant financial reason to travel for medical care.

Whether a Canadian resident is looking for heath tourism alternatives to the universal healthcare system, or a traveler is residing in Canada with no access to the universal healthcare system, there are international insurance solutions. Medical tourism set medical procedure pricing does not typically include emergency complication medical bills. So, before you travel for medical care or travel to another country uninsured, please check the insurance options available.

We are not Canadian Healthcare specialists but are only citing the trends we are seeing, including the Canadian medical tourists’ feedback from the past 15 years.

Please consult a professional when looking for specific Canadian universal care coverage questions.

You might also be interested in: Medical Tourism Facts: Canada

Posted in Medical Tourism.