Scenery east of the town of Trai Mat near Da Lat, Vietnam.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Da Lat, Vietnam.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Not sure yet!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Our "great" Canadian health care system...part 1

Well, I had some first hand experience with our "free" health care system today. It's not very often that I do, because I don't have any health problems...but I was with our daughter today and she had a problem.

Lindsey is visiting from Nova Scotia. She was coming with me on my blood driving job this afternoon, and her grandfather was picking her up in Perth so she could spend a night visiting with him. Tomorrow, he'll drop her off in Perth, and she'll come back to the KOA with us until she leaves on Monday.

About half way between Kingston and Westport, she complained of a sudden sharp pain in her lower back on one side. She said "something isn't right", and it was so bad that she was in tears. I said that we could continue on to Westport where I know the people in the doctor's office there, or we could turn around and go back to the hospital in Kingston. She was obviously distressed by the pain. We decided to continue on to Westport.

As we approached Westport, I asked if she wanted to continue 20 minutes drive further on to Perth where there is a small hospital, or of she felt she needed to go to the doctors office in Westport, and she said Westport.

So we stopped in Westport. As soon as they saw her Nova Scotia health card, we were asked for cash.

For those of you who don't know, the Canadian health care system is administered by the provinces. That means that each province can have totally independant guidelines and the doctors operating in those provinces are under no obligation to accept another province's fee guidelines. As Canadians, we are ONLY insured for services in the province in which we reside. All others pay CASH, at the discretion of the attending physician.

You then have to submit any receipts to your provincial insurer for "consideration". The vast majority of these claims will be paid, however there are different levels of payment depending on each province's fee structure.

Anyhow, when Lindsey heard we had to pay cash, she was immediately put off. Pain or no pain, she wanted to continue to the hospital in Perth, so that's what we did.

In Perth, I continued on my job, and her grandfather took her to the hospital. There was no question about accepting her Nova Scotia health card, and it wasn't busy so they took her right away. Service was fast...they took a urine sample and within minutes the nurse had said she thought it was a kidney stone, but the doctor would have to confirm that, and soon he did.

So she will probably have a painful couple of days until that stone follows it's course, but at least we know what it is. She's up at her grandpa's for the night, and I'll meet her in Perth tomorrow afternoon to bring her back here. She says it's painful, but they gave her a prescription and she's gone with grandpa to get it filled. Yes, she has to pay for the prescription, but will be reinbursed under her employer's private health plan.

But I am miffed at this doctor in Westport, and I am going to voice my concern. By not accepting another provinces health insurance fees (Ontario has the highest fee structure!), this says to me you are in the business strictly for the money. For the number of times that a small town doctors office would encounter a situation like this, I think it is very petty.

And the ironic thing is, that instead of receiving slightly reduced income based on Nova Scotia guidelines, this particular doctor received NOTHING because we decided to carry on.


  1. Unfortunately this is the system we will probably have in the U.S. in a few years. We already are seeing doctors here refusing to accept medicare patients because of the cuts in what the medicare system wil pay them for their services.

    When this is fully in place for Americans we will surely see a reduction in medical services available to each citizen.

    We have a private health insurance plan for myself, my wife and our 4 children that we pay over $1200 a month for, but we can see a doctor anytime we need to and be treated in any hospital. With the changes instore for us in the U.S. over the next few years we are hoping we can continue to keep this plan because we prefer it to anything our government has to offer. We will find out when our policy is up for renewal in September.

  2. I strongly suggest that everyone in your family get a travel policy. If she has no pre-existing conditions, it's relatively inexpensive and well worth it. You can travel province to province, and into the US and most "incidents" are covered. The one I have, we have used in the US twice (it's available in Ontario too), once for a broken ankle and once for a greenstick fracture in the arm. Both times the doctor we visited (two different states) called the 1-877 number on the card and we were not billed for anything. It was all directly billed to the company. Approved on the phone.
    I even used it once in BC during a quick visit there.
    Email me if you want more details, I don't sell this product myself, but I am in the insurance industry so I understand the wordings a little better than most :))
    You can get an annual policy and if you are away longer than 30 days, you can get "top up" coverage up to 6 months.

  3. Oh, poor Lindsey !!

    That sounds painful....please tell her a bunch of "strangers" really do care, and wish her a quick recovery !!

    At least she has Mom and Dad to help her and hopefully have time to spoil her with love !!

    Take care, guys.....Trent and Teresa

  4. Anonymous....I think it will be hard to make everyone happy. Canada may have "free" healthcare, but many people have to wait long periods of time for the help they need, some even going to the States and paying to have the needed healthcare just to get it faster. Also Canada's healthcare won't cover everything. Not everything is as good as people think.

    Wild Blue Yonder...We refuse to pay for health insurance within our own country. We pay enough in taxes that it should be excepted across the board. I can understand buying it for the States or Internationally, but it shouldn't be something that you have to get when you drive to another province within your own country.

    Trent and Teresa....Yes it is painful for her, but she is trying hard to not let it ruin her holiday with us. Thank you for thinking of her. She hasn't passed the stone yet, but is hoping it will be soon.

  5. Sorry about being "Anonymous" but I haven't researched far enough yet to figure out how to become a member of your blog. I guess I need to do that soon. I am Joe of Joe&Karen that post on and I have been following your blog for a couple of months and enjoy it very much. We live in Williston, Fl. about 40 miles east of Cedar Key, Fl. I read your blogs about visiting there on your recent trip to Florida.

    About the health-care issue, it seems that from reports on the news and polls taken by various polling groups that most Americans DO NOT want this government run health-care system here. It seems to be the agenda of a certain political party here in the U.S. We do have 2 systems of government health-care already for people that qualify, Medicare for people age 65 and over that draw social security and Medicade for children of lower income families. My wife (Karen) had Medicade for her children before we got married and she can tell you it was a nightmare. When she had to take a child to the doctor for just a routine check-up she would have to schedule to be off from work the whole day. If you had a 10 A.M. appointment that ment you had to be there at 10 A.M. and you would be seen sometime before the office closed at 5 P.M., so she would have to arrange to take the whole day off from work because you never know how long it will take. That sure does not make for a productive society. With our private insurance plan we can make an appointment at a certain time and be sure we will be taken care of in a reasonable amount of time and go on with the rest of our day. One question I would have for you is this, where will the Canadian citizens go for timely health care proceedures when the U.S. has a health-care system that is just as bad, if not worse?

    Sorry for the rant, but this is something that we feel strongly about.

    I do enjoy reading your blogs and look forward to reading about your adventures each day. Also, I hope and pray that your daughter has a speedy and complete recovery.

  6. Hi Joe. You could have sent us a note when we were in Cedar Key...we would have made a little detour and stopped by to say hi. We like meeting the people who follow what we're up to!

    Our health care system meets the needs of the vast majority of our population and their health care. The same way that your current system does. Every American we've talked to likes the system the way it is and doesn't see the need for change. It's interesting that there are a lot of situations in our world where the majority does NOT rule.

  7. Hey Kevin
    It's not that I disagree with your views, but the health care system is going to remain provincially run therefore you have to work around it.
    A travel policy should cover not only your travels into the States but also provincially.
    Unfortunately, it will be a long time before health care is a federal issue.
    I agree though, we should have a federal health policy but this government isn't interested.


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