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Canadians paying thousands for medical procedures south of the border
While needing medical attention in the United States is generally a bad thing, there are a number of people who are actively choosing treatment there because they can skip long lines and often enjoy much better experiences.
Kalispell Regional Healthcare in Montana is just one of many private hospitals that accept Canadian patients for common medical procedures.
They even have a specialized department that caters to Canadians.
“It’s a personal touch kind of thing. So, when you call, we are the ones who help gather your records, we get your information, we then pass it on to a physician,” said Lindzy Roth, a registered nurse at the facility.
There are also a number of perks for Canadians coming for treatment in the U.S. that include a complimentary second opinion from a doctor, private rooms and space for families who want to stay with patients.
The procedures that the facility offers don’t come cheap:
- Knee arthroscopy with meniscus repair - $10,207.63
- Rotator cuff repair - $15,730
- Herniated disc - $18,049
- Total knee replacement - $32,890
- Total hip replacement - $31,746
The pricing, Roth says, includes a consult surgery and three follow-up visits within three months.
The follow-ups are what some surgeons are concerned about.
“I like to follow my patients through their entire recovery and sometimes that’s more difficult with a Canadian patient who doesn’t necessarily want to come down at all the two, four and six weeks after surgery.”
Lisa Saito, a veteran nurse and Canadian, says it is important to build a relationship with all of the patients who have surgery there.
“Meet out on the tarmac and maybe have a bevvie and talk about home and talk about here and its nice; you build really cool relationships.”
The number of surgeries for Canadians at the centre has fallen in recent years and the poor economy in Alberta is mainly to blame.
Three years ago, the facility saw about 180 surgeries but that number sagged over the last couple of years to about 60 patients.
Numbers have improved this year and officials say they will be seeing about 100 Canadian patients this year.
The Government of Canada says anyone thinking about going to the U.S. or any other country for a medical procedure should obtain insurance that covers procedures conducted outside of Canada.
(With files from Brad MacLeod)