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Canada has a universal health care system, but each province administers its own plan. The federal government provides funding based on how many Canadian patients live in each province, meaning heavily populated provinces receive the most money. Although this health care system does make care more accessible to low-income Canadians, some people have problems getting the health services they need. Canadians in many communities struggle with delays for medical treatments and surgical procedures.
Delays in treatment can lead to chronic pain and loss of function, especially for a Canadian who needs orthopedic surgery to correct a problem with the bones or joints. One way to get orthopedic surgeries faster is to go outside your home province for surgery and follow-up care.
For many Canadian patients who are dealing with long-term conditions or injuries, the best way to find relief is by seeking out-of-province orthopedic treatment.
One of the most common reasons to seek care outside your home province is to get around the long wait times for certain procedures, particularly those that can provide relief from chronic pain.
In 2021, surgery cancellations became commonplace in many provinces, such as Alberta and Ontario, where surging COVID-19 cases overwhelmed medical facilities and staff. These cancellations not only risk that the conditions of many patients may worsen, but they also exacerbate the backups within the medical system and add to the already lengthy wait times.
More recently, the CBC reported in May 2022 about a case where a man was unable to work or enjoy his favourite activities due to severe chronic pain in his toe. When he was put on the surgery referral list, he was told he'd have to wait as long as 18 months to have the procedure.
That man is just one example of a person who's had to live with severe pain due to an inability to access needed medical services in a timely manner. When the article was published, there were more than 88,000 Canadian patients on the surgery waiting list for British Columbia. This doesn't include Canadians in other provinces who are unable to see a specialist or have surgery due to long wait times.
Throughout the summer and fall of 2022, a surge in respiratory infections and staff shortages led to more cancelled surgeries in British Columbia and Ontario, respectively. Although many thought that the Canadian medical system was on its way to catching up with the backlog that was compounded by COVID-19, developments show that there remains a lot of ground to make up and no shortage of challenges ahead.
Some communities also lack the technology needed to perform cutting-edge surgical procedures. Travelling to another province makes it possible to access state-of-the-art technology and get care from some of the top specialists in orthopedic injuries and conditions. Even if you have to pay extra for transportation and prescription drugs, going outside your home province can be extremely beneficial.
Travelling outside your home province for orthopedic care has several potential benefits:
Before you make an appointment for out-of-province orthopedic treatment, it's important to understand how out-of-province care works in terms of travel insurance coverage and other arrangements. Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about getting out-of-province medical care:
Your plan may pay for some portion of a medically necessary procedure, but it probably won't reimburse you for travel expenses, even if you provide original receipts. To ensure you receive reimbursement for eligible expenses, keep all documentation provided by the out-of-province health care provider.
Some provinces have a travel assistance policy that makes funds available to patients who need to travel to other provinces for care. If your province doesn't have such a policy, check with local aid organizations to determine if any grants are available. To qualify for a grant, you may need to provide information about your family income, dependent children and health conditions.
The team at Ortho Westmount offers a wide range of orthopedic treatment options, and they are committed to providing personalized care to help relieve hip pain, knee pain and back pain through minimally invasive techniques.
If you have faced delays or unacceptable wait times to receive an orthopedic treatment in your community, call (514-932-6455) or contact us to schedule a consultation without the need for a referral.