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November 5, 2007
'Loony' Health Tourism
Despite Canada's "free" health care--paid for by their very high taxes--many Canadians have become health care tourists to the private market USA because of Canada's notoriously long waiting times for doctors and facilities plus a lack of advanced medical technologies.
And now, thanks to the falling dollar and the higher valued Canadian dollar (loony as it is referred to there) American health care for Canadians has suddenly become 30% cheaper. Even though Canadians have to pay for it out of pocket, it is still a bargain. Some simple numbers from Dr. Albert Schumacher, past president of the Ontario Medical Association (OMA) and the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) reveal the high price of Canada's "free" health care.
This province just doesn't have the medical staff or the resources to provide the same level of care as the U.S. Furthermore, even with a new medical school opening in Ontario the medical future there is not promising:
Essex County, where Schumacher practises, with a population of 400,000, until recently had only two CT scanners and one MRI machine. They just got a second MRI. Across the border in Port Huron, Mich., population 12,000, they had four MRI machines 10 years ago, Schumacher says.
He points out that despite the new satellite medical school in Windsor, the 2,400 doctors that will be enrolled starting in 2010 will still only give the country 80% of self-sufficiency for doctors. Hey, now just who or what is loony; who or what has a more solid currency? And most importantly, what about the health care? Hillary and Michael Moore, living here, have one answer. The Canadian Ms. Thompson, referred to in the link above, who would have had to wait up to five months for an MRI in Canada but was able to get one the next day in the privatized health care USA, certainly has another.
"The simple math is for every five of me practising here, Western Europe has six and we are only training four to replace us, so the crisis gets worse on a daily basis," he says. The OMA estimates this province is short more than 2,000 physicians -- all just numbers and statistics for politicians, perhaps. But for Joanne Thompson and her sister, these figures add up to one thing: Prolonged suffering.