Author Topic: Medical tourism TO Canada for US citizen?  (Read 4509 times)

RootofGood

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Medical tourism TO Canada for US citizen?
« on: February 28, 2014, 03:16:38 PM »
We might be spending a month this summer in Canada (somewhere on the Toronto to Quebec corridor). 

My question is whether it might be cheaper to get an elective procedure done in Canada than it is in the US.  We have high deductible HI ($5000 ded. I think??) and are unlikely to hit the deductible in any given year.  The procedure itself is removal of 1-2 lipocysts 1-1.5 cm in diameter.  Outpatient procedure (I assume no general anesthesia required).  Possible pathology of the excised material.  Dermatologist in the US didn't recommend removal a few years ago, but they have grown slightly. 

Any idea if we could walk in to a clinic and get a price quote?  Would there likely be a long wait to get the actual treatment? 

Is it worth it for possible marginal savings?  Maybe the better question is whether there's a big price difference between cash customers in Canada and the insurance negotiated rates for the same care in the US. 

FuckRx

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Re: Medical tourism TO Canada for US citizen?
« Reply #1 on: February 28, 2014, 04:48:22 PM »

removing a lipoma is a straightforward outpatient procedure that a general surgeon or even a skilled family doctor should be able to handle. however, should you get an infection or complications it will be quite a bit more of a pain in the ass. is there a reason you want them removed? lipomas grow, that's just what they do. can you maybe have it biopsied to see if there is any suspicious cells? i mean if you are trying to save money and getting an electric procedure done.... well you know...

RootofGood

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Re: Medical tourism TO Canada for US citizen?
« Reply #2 on: February 28, 2014, 05:51:29 PM »
A Canadian friend of mine says that in BC at least, the hospital does have a price list for almost every procedure, so I would assume that's the case elsewhere in the country. At one point, we figured it would be cheaper for me to cross the border, stay with her for a couple months, have a baby in Canada, pay cash, and come home than to deal with my HDHP.

When researching online, I came up blank on actual cost data.  Everything is "free"!  ;)  At least I now know you can pay cash for things and it's somewhat common at least.  If you don't have your insurance card from the province (like you leave it at home), you pay cash or credit card, or they bill you. 

Oddly enough, in my research one of the common questions was "how much to deliver a baby in Canada"?  All the advice was "watch out, they don't want anchor babies" and will turn you back at the gates if you look pregnant.  The answers were vague, but $10k seemed to be the consensus.  Including anesthesia, that's a little less than what the insurance negotiated rates are in the US (for me). 


RootofGood

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Re: Medical tourism TO Canada for US citizen?
« Reply #3 on: February 28, 2014, 05:57:20 PM »

removing a lipoma is a straightforward outpatient procedure that a general surgeon or even a skilled family doctor should be able to handle. however, should you get an infection or complications it will be quite a bit more of a pain in the ass. is there a reason you want them removed? lipomas grow, that's just what they do. can you maybe have it biopsied to see if there is any suspicious cells? i mean if you are trying to save money and getting an electric procedure done.... well you know...

The procedure would be for someone traveling with us (not me).  She says there's a little "discomfort" if she hits the bumps on a hard surface.  Agreed the procedure was simple - the dermatologist said she could do it (a few years ago) but that it wasn't necessary yet.  Maybe we'll look into visiting a dermatologist while up there if they are significantly less expensive.  I think specialists are $120-$180 negotiated rates on our plan.  Maybe we can save $100.

I wish there was some price transparency down here.  Biopsy and pathology might be almost as expensive as outright removal + pathology (if pathology is recommended). 

Dicey

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Re: Medical tourism TO Canada for US citizen?
« Reply #4 on: February 28, 2014, 06:20:24 PM »

removing a lipoma is a straightforward outpatient procedure that a general surgeon or even a skilled family doctor should be able to handle. however, should you get an infection or complications it will be quite a bit more of a pain in the ass. is there a reason you want them removed? lipomas grow, that's just what they do. can you maybe have it biopsied to see if there is any suspicious cells? i mean if you are trying to save money and getting an electric procedure done.... well you know...

Thirty years ago, my "absolutely harmless" lipoma turned into a sarcoma (myxoliposarcoma, to be exact). I am grateful to this day for every single medical professional who helped me in my journey back to health. Another thing to consider is what your friend's game plan will be for follow-up care, particularly if her biopsy results are not good. I wonder why you are only considering Canada? There are a lot of other countries where such procedures are cost-effective and they WANT your business. Bumrungrad is well known. A google search of medical tourism will give you more leads to follow.

RootofGood

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Re: Medical tourism TO Canada for US citizen?
« Reply #5 on: February 28, 2014, 07:14:10 PM »
Thirty years ago, my "absolutely harmless" lipoma turned into a sarcoma (myxoliposarcoma, to be exact). I am grateful to this day for every single medical professional who helped me in my journey back to health. Another thing to consider is what your friend's game plan will be for follow-up care, particularly if her biopsy results are not good. I wonder why you are only considering Canada? There are a lot of other countries where such procedures are cost-effective and they WANT your business. Bumrungrad is well known. A google search of medical tourism will give you more leads to follow.

We are planning a vacation to Canada anyway.  Just checking to see if things are cheaper up there for healthcare. 

We hope to visit Thailand within the next 5 years, and probably a few other places in Latin America that tend to have good (enough) healthcare. 

If the biopsy results bring bad news, we'll take it as we can.  We'll have our car and we won't be far from the US so we can always drive home in a (very long) day (Ontario/Quebec to NC).

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Re: Medical tourism TO Canada for US citizen?
« Reply #6 on: March 01, 2014, 11:27:30 AM »
I saw a dermatologist last year for a skin cancer screening and he quoted me $250 to remove a little bump on my forearm. That kind of thing isn't covered by OHIP. It was a pretty fancy looking clinic in Toronto. I think if you googled dermatology clinics in smaller, less expensive, cities (Kingston perhaps?) and contacted the clinics they would give you estimates. I still have the bump :(

RootofGood

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Re: Medical tourism TO Canada for US citizen?
« Reply #7 on: March 01, 2014, 02:44:20 PM »
When my friend and I discussed this we actually went over how early I'd have to cross the border to avoid getting stopped because they do check for that sort of thing. That being said, Canadian border patrol is less worried about Americans doing that, figuring they have less incentive than people from poorer countries.

For most Americans, you can get "free" medicaid to cover prenatal care and delivery, plus post-partum follow up(s).  As long as your income isn't too high.  I can't remember the income limits but it was higher than you would think. 

You can always roll into an emergency room here in the US 10 cm dilated and partially crowning and get some "free" baby delivery. 

RootofGood

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Re: Medical tourism TO Canada for US citizen?
« Reply #8 on: March 01, 2014, 02:49:28 PM »
I saw a dermatologist last year for a skin cancer screening and he quoted me $250 to remove a little bump on my forearm. That kind of thing isn't covered by OHIP. It was a pretty fancy looking clinic in Toronto. I think if you googled dermatology clinics in smaller, less expensive, cities (Kingston perhaps?) and contacted the clinics they would give you estimates. I still have the bump :(

We may give it a shot.  That rate seems pretty good.

RootofGood

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Re: Medical tourism TO Canada for US citizen?
« Reply #9 on: March 01, 2014, 04:49:23 PM »
You can always roll into an emergency room here in the US 10 cm dilated and partially crowning and get some "free" baby delivery.

Unless you somehow manage to avoid giving them your real name and social, you'd better be prepared to tank your credit to do that, haven't you? Ethics aside, that always seemed a profound disincentive for the middle class to do that.

Ha ha, yeah.  But probably a lot better than having the baby at home in your bath tub. 

And as far as showing up 10 cm dilated in the US or Canada - probably the same outcome.  They're going to bill you.  And in the US it would probably be $$$$ without the insurance negotiated discount. 

Although at the hospital we delivered at here in Raleigh NC, they waive all hospital charges if you make under 250% of the FPL (~AGI of $64000 for a family of 5 IIRC) and meet a couple other tests.