Are Canadians Really Seeking Health Care Treatment Abroad?

How many Canadians are seeking health care abroad? Of those who do seek health care abroad, what are they aiming to treat? What does that mean for our country? It’s time to take a look at the numbers.

Study Finds — More Than 45,000 Canadians Sought Treatment Abroad

A new study, released by the Fraser Institute, addressed the Canadian health care system. What they found, was that over 45,000 Canadians did, in fact, leave Canada to seek non-emergency medical treatments in the year 2015.

This study did not mention specific locations but did account for those who went outside the country to receive some treatment. The researchers believe that wait times are a key driving force when deciding to seek medical care outside of Canada.

Based on their research, the Fraser Institute stated that after seeing a specialist in 2015, Canadians waited an average of 9.8 weeks for medically necessary treatment. Of those traveling abroad, it appears that the most common procedures were cases surrounding urology — including cases that involved both male and female urinary tract and reproductive organ issues.

Are These Numbers Really That Significant?

Although 45,000 may seem like a high number, these cases only account for 1 percent of all patients. In comparison to residents in the United States, this number is relatively low. When referring to someone who travels to another country for medical care, they are involved in what’s now known as medical tourism.

Each year, it’s estimated that an average of 750,000 United States residents travels abroad to seek medical care. Not only is treatment cheaper, but many immigrants choose to return to their home country in times of need. Although heart surgery is relatively common, tourism trips are also often related to dentistry, orthopedic, and cosmetic procedures.

At this point, the concept of medical tourism is still relatively new and in that sense, gaining reliable, accurate data is fairly challenging. At this time, however, it appears that some of the top destinations to seek medical treatment abroad include Costa Rica, Malaysia, Mexico, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, the United States, Turkey, Israel, India, and South Korea.

As stated by the Vancouver Sun, one individual from British Columbia became a medical tourist and was pleased with the care he received. The father-of-three needed a liver transplant but was told that he would need to wait six months in Canada. After speaking to doctors in Hong Kong, it was clear that his odds of survival were greater if the surgery was completed immediately.

Of course, each scenario is unique, and not everyone is happy with their decision to go elsewhere. If you are debating on seeking treatment abroad, it’s imperative that you do your research and ensures that it’s the best possible option for you — after all, medical tourism is a big business.

By 2019, it’s estimated that the industry will grow to $32 billion and in 2013 alone, Canadians spent more than $440 million for out-of-country medical treatment. How do you feel about his rapidly growing industry? Do you know anyone who has sought treatment outside of Canada?

If so, please feel free to comment below — sharing either your opinion or a personal experience.

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