Healthcare —How Long Will You Wait?

Healthcare —How Long Will You Wait?

If you’re like me, and you knew something was wrong and you’d seen your doctor about it, I bet you’d want to see a specialist soon and get the situation addressed as early as possible.

Well it doesn’t always work that way. In my case, I learned that I had a hernia in the spring of 2013. My doctor asked me if I’d like to have it repaired. “Do I want it repaired?!” Okay, that caught me off guard, it’s not like I’m a bicycle. But, I didn’t have to think about it. After all, why wouldn’t I want it “repaired”?

My doctor said he would arrange for a consultation with a surgeon. I thought to myself, “Awesome, the system is going to look after me”. A couple or three weeks went by, and I got a call from my doctor’s office. They were pleased to advise that they had made an appointment for me to see a surgeon. That appointment was scheduled for April 30, 2014, at the time, about 10 months or so down the road. That’s just for the consultation. Who knows when surgery might have been scheduled for?

I did not accept the appointment. I advised my doctor’s office that they needed to find me a surgeon who could see me earlier than that. So a couple more weeks went by and I got another call from my doctor’s office. This time the results were a little more favorable, September, 2013, just two months away. I’ll take that.

So why do we have wait lists? We have wait lists because public healthcare systems have to work within budgets. Accordingly, provincially run systems put limits on what they are prepared to spend on various procedures. These procedures are also budgeted in terms of time. While a facility might be able to run around the clock, seven days a week, it is not going to happen at public expense.

I had already started to do a little research on my own. I had learned that I could pay for the surgery myself if I was willing to travel outside Alberta. You see, the Canada Health Act makes it essentially illegal to receive private health care within the province of your residence, if that care would ordinarily, or rather eventually, be provided by your provincial health care system.

Does this mean that, if I was prepared to pay for my own hernia repair, I could get it done legally in say Vancouver or Montreal? Yes, that’s exactly what it means. It also means you can get the care you need a lot sooner than waiting for a surgeon’s consultation for 10 months.

I had learned in August, 2013, that I could be booked for my hernia repair at a top tier clinic in Vancouver in as little as 2 to 3 weeks with the consultation being done over the phone or in person the day before the scheduled surgery. A far cry from waiting 10 months for a consultation, and longer yet for surgery.

How much would this surgery cost me? The estimated cost to me, a little less than I expected, around $6200.00 plus whatever travel and accommodation costs I would incur getting to and from Vancouver. I estimate the out of pocket cost to me would have been about $8,000.00.

For some this may be out of reach and others it may be quite affordable. That is not the point of this article. The point is, that top notch timely healthcare is available in Canada if you are prepared to open your wallet, just as it is available if you are prepared to travel outside of Canada for that care.

Now just suppose that someone else was prepared to open their wallet on your behalf. That someone else would step up and schedule your diagnostic procedure or your surgery if your provincial healthcare system was unable to schedule it sooner than say 45 days. How would that make you feel? Would you sleep better at night, knowing that someone had your back, and was going to make sure that you had timely access to premium healthcare should you ever need it? Would it comfort you to know that any condition you had would be looked at and dealt with as early as possible, before it had a chance to get worse or become life threatening?

Now what if I told you, there is an insurance company in Canada that offers exactly that? What would you be prepared to pay in premiums to ensure that such care was available to you, your family, your employees, or your business partners? It may be more affordable than you think.

Let’s go back to my situation in 2013. I decided that I would hold off on the $8,000 and wait to see what the surgeon had to say in September. As it turned out I was able to get my surgery completed on December 5th, 2013 under the provincial system here in Alberta. The system does work, but what were the costs. It took about 7 months from diagnosis to surgery. During that time I was less productive at work, suffering a mild degree of discomfort, even missing a few days when things were a little worse. The delay also made the surgery more complicated due to progress of the condition.

Had I known about and purchased Canada’s only private Healthcare insurance prior to my hernia, I would have been able to have it repaired likely within three weeks of being told it would be more than a 45 day wait.

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