A Surprising Amount of Canadians Are Seeking Medical Treatment Abroad

At a time when we thought Donald Trump couldn’t piss us off anymore, he had to go and bring Canada into it.

As you probably know by now, during Sunday night’s presidential debate, Trump took a swipe at Canada’s health care system, calling it a “catastrophic” system in certain ways.

Trump said that, as a result, Canadians often go to the U.S. when they need a big operation.

And he’s right that some are seeking treatment elsewhere. But by some, we mean just 1 per cent of patients who received treatment from a specialist.


A new study released yesterday by the Fraser Institute suggests that 45,619 Canadians sought non-emergency medical treatment outside of the country in 2015. This figure is actually down about 13 per cent from the year before.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that they all went to the U.S. for treatment, either – just that they went outside of Canada.


Naturally, one of the main reasons cited for doing so is the long wait times at Canadian hospitals. According to its own research, the Fraser Institute claims patients waited an average of 9.8 weeks for medically necessary treatment in 2015 after seeing a specialist. They say this is three weeks longer than what is considered “reasonable” by physicians.

Those with the cash can skip the lineups by crossing the border, so they do. It makes sense when you’re life is at stake. Let’s be honest: we’ve all heard horror stories of people ultimately dying because they simply weren’t diagnosed or treated in time.

And some of the most state-of-the-art medical technology lives beyond Canadian borders.


But I wouldn’t necessarily call our home and native land’s healthcare system “catastrophic.”

By now, most of us have witnessed this for ourselves in the positive handling and healing of sick friends and loved ones at the hands of the Canadian health care system. And we all have enough bills as it is; imagine adding health insurance to your tab?

The report acknowledges that there is “no readily available data on the number of Canadians travelling abroad for health care.”

Instead, the information is an estimate obtained through data from The Fraser Institute’s annual survey of Canadian physicians in 12 specialties, along with data from the Canadian Institute for Health Information on the number of procedures performed in Canada.

Anyway, Trump said that the adoption of our Canadian-style healthcare system “would be a disaster” if adopted in the U.S., and to be honest, we’re okay with that.

We all know that Trump is the biggest “disaster” in this scenario, anyway.

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