Author Topic: Feedback on Canadian Healthcare for Retirees  (Read 1479 times)

Pennycounter

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Feedback on Canadian Healthcare for Retirees
« on: February 27, 2018, 10:08:53 AM »
My husband is a Canadian citizen (as are my children) and I've long considered moving to Canada to get my citizenship so that we can rely on socialized healthcare if we RE.  I'm going to be honest that I have not done any recent research on what I would need to do to establish residency and obtain said citizenship. I recall it was working there for 2-3 years before you are eligible, but let me know if I'm super off base.  I work in a highly employable field so would not be concerned about finding a job in BC or PQ, where we would consider living. 

My real question is about the quality of care we can expect. All I hear from my in-laws is complaints about the time to see a specialist and appointments getting pushed etc.  I am used to paying a pretty penny for care but no long waits, etc.  Recently a local friend was had some serious medical issues and I just wondered how that would play out under socialized medicine. Do any of you pick up private insurance? Are my in-laws just whiny? Do you need to be a strong advocate for your own care?  Honestly you need to learn to do this in any system, I've found.  There are a lot of Canadien's on the board and I appreciate any feedback. 


meghan88

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Re: Feedback on Canadian Healthcare for Retirees
« Reply #1 on: February 27, 2018, 11:50:39 AM »
Apologies, but I can't speak to the immigration requirements without more information.  It sounds like you're in good shape to get citizenship if you're highly employable AND the rest of your family holds Canadian citizenship.

Canada is fast-tracking skilled immigrants:  http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/global-talent-stream-canada-technology-1.4157345

We are from PQ originally and now live in ON, soon to move back to PQ.  IMO, I think you always need to be a strong advocate for your own care. As a personal example, I was diagnosed with stomach flu when in fact I had a severe first-time flare-up of Crohn's disease.  Took two weeks to get a correct diagnosis.  Now that I have a GI doc, all is very, very well.

Once you're in and you know the system and have the appropriate doctors, all is easy enough.  And if you're working, there are certain benefits available to you through your employer's health insurance, such as semi-private rooms, etc., when needed.  Not to mention dental benefits, chiro, massotherapy and more.

Pennycounter

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Re: Feedback on Canadian Healthcare for Retirees
« Reply #2 on: February 28, 2018, 09:16:55 AM »
Thank you so much for the information! are there price controls on prescription drugs? In the states, if you don't have insurance the cost of prescription drugs is astronomical.

And I think a lot of the complaints I've heard are about more routine or non urgent medical appointments. That's probably why I've heard so many complaints similar to yours Malkynn about waiting a long time and then having an appointment cancelled, Etc

Meghan88 - thanks for the resource. At some point I do need to do more research on the immigration process. We aren't close to moving, or sure where we would relocate at this point. I know I like BC the best and my in-laws are in PQ.

backyardfeast

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Re: Feedback on Canadian Healthcare for Retirees
« Reply #3 on: February 28, 2018, 02:59:21 PM »
I agree with Malkynn's summary of life under our medical system.  It's worth noting that there can be vast differences between provinces.  I am in BC, where we do have a pharmacare program, such as it is, to protect against catastrophic prescription coverage.  There are also strong discounts/subsidies for seniors.

Personally, I think the best thing about our system is that if you are reasonably healthy, and an issue comes up, you just go to the doctor.  No thoughts about costs or barriers.  Think you might have the flu or an infection? Might be pregnant or are experiencing unusual pain?  Head to the local walk-in clinic, find out when the drop-in hours are not too busy, see a doctor, done.  So routine care is straightforward and catastrophic care is straightforward.  Got chest pains? Broke a leg?  In a car accident?  Head to emergency where you will be treated promptly with excellent care and no bills will be sent to you.

There are headaches and issues with all the stuff in between.  All of our care is funneled through our family doctors (they do all the referrals to specialists; can't just call up a specialist and make an appointment), and in some places finding a family doctor accepting new patients can be very difficult (although this seems to be improving?  There have been lots of moves to bring in doctors from other countries, graduate more doctors, incentivize work in rural areas, etc).  Moving through specialists for non-emergency issues can take forever.  Wait on a list for one specialist for months, then they order tests (CT, MRI, whatever), wait for those, they want to send you to another specialist, back on a list for months more, etc.  Knee or hip replacement? Get on the list.  Need your mom in assisted living? Get on the list.  The lengths of these lists is highly location-dependent.  If you have chronic pain, these waits can be incredibly unpleasant.  No charges for any of this stuff.

Provincial plans do not usually cover dental care, counseling (although hospital psychiatric and some other critical mental health care will be, but very narrowly) or much other mental health care, vision care, etc.  Some provinces cover a bit of alternative practice--there is some massage therapy coverage here, for instance. This varies widely.

Most people have some "extended" health insurance benefits through their employer, and this can be purchased privately as well, usually for a couple of hundred dollars and up a month, depending on number of people and level of benefits.  These plans cover dental, vision, sometimes counseling and a variety of preventative and/or therapeutic services like physio, chiro, naturopathy, etc. as well as things like private hospital beds, subsidized prescriptions and the like.  We also tend to buy private sector insurance for travel insurance for when we leave the province or country for an extended period of time.  These insurers generally bridge the gap to get patients back to Canada to keep the costs down. :)

Hope that helps!

daverobev

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Re: Feedback on Canadian Healthcare for Retirees
« Reply #4 on: February 28, 2018, 07:21:02 PM »
If your spouse is Canadian, they can sponsor you; it is a fairly easy process, no 'testing' required except to know some trivia about the country which you learn from a booklet near the end.

You first get PR, stay for 3 years out of 5, then apply for Citizenship. Pay a couple of thousand dollars along the way. Easy.

In the budget today they are talking about a national program for medication. The ex Ontario Health Minister is heading up the team to look into it all.

In Ontario at least there is Trillium Drug Benefit if you spend too much on drugs or are old or whatever. It is a fractured mess. I'm from the UK so the whole thing is a massive "huh?" vs the (admittedly not without some issues of its own!) NHS system. But vs the US? Holy shit.

damyst

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Re: Feedback on Canadian Healthcare for Retirees
« Reply #5 on: March 01, 2018, 01:17:29 AM »
In some countries with public healthcare, you can choose to pay out of pocket for private care of you don't feel like waiting weeks/months in line, or if you want a drug or treatment that isn't available under the public system. Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but my understanding is that in Canada this doesn't exist for the most part. You want to pay for care, you need to travel internationally.

BTW, I see people here using "PQ" as short for Quebec. PQ is a separatist provincial political party. The abbreviation for Quebec is QC.

elaine amj

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Re: Feedback on Canadian Healthcare for Retirees
« Reply #6 on: March 01, 2018, 08:05:24 AM »
To add to the discussion -

The US seems orders way more tests than Canada does for the same issues. Both DH and his brother were treated for the same cancer. DH here in Canada and his brother in the US.

Treatment recommended was more or less the same. However, DH's brother had many more tests as well as the more detailed PET scans multiple times. We asked DH's Canadian doctor about a PET scan (vs the CAT scan ordered for my DH) and he said that unless there was a strong reason to need it, the provincial health care system wouldn't pay for it (although we could pay privately) as it wasn't considered medically necessary. This is not always a bad thing as DH was unsure about wanting a PET scan anyway as that introduces yet more radiation into the body.

Also, you can often opt for many newer forms of treatment in the US. For example, proton therapy is used in many places in the US for cancer. We spent quite a bit of time discussing it with specialists here in Canada. The doctor examined DH thoroughly and carefully. And explained that based on his particular case, there was no strong  research - based evidence that proton therapy would provide any significant benefits over conventional radiation therapy. He did discuss the circumstances in which he would feel it would be worth it though. We had consulted with a US hospital who was happy to offer us proton therapy.

We had a choice between Canada and the US health systems. DH is a US citizen and we could have moved temporarily and purchased insurance. In some ways, the US offers certain advantages. But for various reasons (including costs), we ended up choosing to stay with the Canadian health system. Sometimes we wonder, but overall, we are pleased with the standard of care. And of course, we have almost zero medical bills other than various alternative treatments,  health supplements and medications we pay for privately (which along with transportation and travel expenses are expensive enough!)

Plus, the sheer amount of tests, etc ordered in the US is rather mind boggling. I have read other US cancer patients report how frequently they get scanned, even during treatments. Our oncologist said there was no point to scans until 2 months after treatment as the area will be inflamed and swollen and it would be hard to get a good look anyway.

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Prairie Stash

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Re: Feedback on Canadian Healthcare for Retirees
« Reply #7 on: March 01, 2018, 08:30:42 AM »
Every part of Canadian Healthcare is better (deliberately inflammatory). Any part that isn't, you can travel to the USA, Mexico, etc.  and pay to have it done. Dental is expensive, lots of people travel to Mexico for example. I know people who get treated for cancer in the states and the provinces pick up the cost. The people who grumble about the wait times have always been allowed to travel anywhere in the USA to pay for treatment, its 100% legal and encouraged to have insurance while abroad to cover treatments in foreign countries. Most prefer to grumble, its a national past time to complain (but the alternative of US healthcare is even worse, so we stay home).

My child's birth cost us $20 for parking.
My Niece with rare cancer - they had to pay hotel costs to stay in the best city in North America for treatment. Only one hospital in Canada specialized in her treatment (very rare cancer), so that's where they went, it was also better than the US hospitals for her, which were all on the table. Her treatment started an hour after diagnosis, it was the next day before an oncologist had the final plan.  When they need to, healthcare moves fast.
My Sisters Cancer costs over $10k in experimental drugs/month to treat (over 8 years now), out of pocket is $0. The experiment was started when she had 2 months to live, it will last until she dies, the hope is by delaying her death that someone will figure out a cure. What would happen in the US for someone like her?

Canadians still regularly have Insurance for prescription, medical and dental, just like Americans. Our drugs might cost initially less because of provincial initiatives, we still want them to be free. I also liked my free glasses (before I got free laser eye surgery). We have all the same insurance options, most of us don't bother because there's less need. My Health insurance covers private hospital rooms, chiropractor care, massage, vacation insurance, wheelchairs, crutches and the entire cost of all prescriptions for my entire family (and a lot more random stuff). My company pays $120/month for it, I used it to pay for my laser eye surgery to give you an idea of how extravagant it is.

daverobev

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Re: Feedback on Canadian Healthcare for Retirees
« Reply #8 on: March 01, 2018, 02:12:54 PM »
Every part of Canadian Healthcare is better (deliberately inflammatory). Any part that isn't, you can travel to the USA, Mexico, etc.  and pay to have it done. Dental is expensive, lots of people travel to Mexico for example. I know people who get treated for cancer in the states and the provinces pick up the cost. The people who grumble about the wait times have always been allowed to travel anywhere in the USA to pay for treatment, its 100% legal and encouraged to have insurance while abroad to cover treatments in foreign countries. Most prefer to grumble, its a national past time to complain (but the alternative of US healthcare is even worse, so we stay home).

My child's birth cost us $20 for parking.
My Niece with rare cancer - they had to pay hotel costs to stay in the best city in North America for treatment. Only one hospital in Canada specialized in her treatment (very rare cancer), so that's where they went, it was also better than the US hospitals for her, which were all on the table. Her treatment started an hour after diagnosis, it was the next day before an oncologist had the final plan.  When they need to, healthcare moves fast.
My Sisters Cancer costs over $10k in experimental drugs/month to treat (over 8 years now), out of pocket is $0. The experiment was started when she had 2 months to live, it will last until she dies, the hope is by delaying her death that someone will figure out a cure. What would happen in the US for someone like her?

Canadians still regularly have Insurance for prescription, medical and dental, just like Americans. Our drugs might cost initially less because of provincial initiatives, we still want them to be free. I also liked my free glasses (before I got free laser eye surgery). We have all the same insurance options, most of us don't bother because there's less need. My Health insurance covers private hospital rooms, chiropractor care, massage, vacation insurance, wheelchairs, crutches and the entire cost of all prescriptions for my entire family (and a lot more random stuff). My company pays $120/month for it, I used it to pay for my laser eye surgery to give you an idea of how extravagant it is.

I think it's worth complaining about. There should be no insurance for this stuff; insurance is a worse than zero sum game. *Pay* and *health* should not go together. I understand drug research is expensive, I understand it isn't as clear cut, and I also understand that 'self destructive' people (ie, drug takers, unfit, etc) can have an unfair burden on those who take care of themselves to a reasonable degree.

No sane country should be charging for *birth*. At point of use. It is a social good. People living full lives, gaining experience and expertise, and passing that down is good for society (considering how much education costs).

Nobody should be forced to choose between paying for a doctor/drug, or heat/electric. It is just wrong. Access to free-at-point-of-use care is part of the fabric of a healthy society.

Pennycounter

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Re: Feedback on Canadian Healthcare for Retirees
« Reply #9 on: March 06, 2018, 07:24:15 PM »
Thanks everyone for the thoughtful and informed responses! I really appreciate it and it confirms that part of our FI plan should be for us to make it possible for me to become a citizen.