August 11, 2009, - 3:45 pm
Despite Barack Obama’s claim that ObamaCare isn’t like Canadian healthcare, that’s exactly what it’s like. And here’s a nice preview, courtesy of the Canadian province of Ontario’s falsely-named Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, which marks the wait times for getting treatment for various ailments in Canada’s most populated province, the one that contains the “sophisticated” New York of Canada, Toronto. You know what’s great about our healthcare system? We don’t have wait time charts because we don’t have wait times. We get treated right away.
I’m not surprised by this scary chart because my cousing Myrna, who lived in Toronto, went blind waiting for the Canadian healthcare system to treat black spots in her eye. Then, she died.
Thanks to David Lunde/Lundesigns for Help w/Images
Writes reader Peter:
According to this June 2009 posting, the wait time for an MRI in Ontario is 100 days . . . which is down from 120 days.
So you need an MRI because your doctor worries that something is wrong. You wait and worry for 100 days. (Here, in the US, you wait and worry for a day or two.) Once you get your MRI in Ontario, then you get on the wait list to see your doctor again to discuss the results. If the MRI shows that you do need a procedure, you put your name on the wait list for that.
It’s no wonder it takes years to get an “elective” procedure like a hip or a knee replacement.
(An aside about “elective” procedures – years ago a 70-year-old with bad knees or bad hip joints got two canes and then a wheel chair. Today they get new knees or new hips…and a return to an active and productive life.)
Interesting fact: There are 50-some MRI machines in all of Ontario (that includes some major cities – Toronto, Hamilton, Ottawa, Windsor, etc.)… and, amazingly, 50-some MRI machines just in the eight counties of Western New York (Greater Buffalo). It’s not that Western New Yorkers are high-utilizers, it’s that the area hugs the border. Canadians come over the bridge to get the care they need. We see that same situation in border cities across the US.
Here’s a press release from 2002, documenting the cross-border MRI shopping.
Also, read this from the Buffalo News about how Canadian government’s doctors are recommending telling patients the urgency of their conditions and how long they can wait for treatment, so they can travel around the country and “doctor shop,” so they can find a doctor with a shorter wait time.
Being able to pinpoint the areas where the waiting lists are the shortest, it is hoped, encourages them to move around more within their individual province as they seek care. But the idea of entering a hospital or surgical facility that may be many miles away from their own neighborhood is not something that many find appealing.
Nevertheless, traveling to another area for surgery is an option that is available depending on the urgency of the procedure required.
A very recent trawl of the government Web site revealed the often-substantial geographic differences in wait times. At St. Joseph’s Health Center in Toronto, the wait time for breast cancer surgery was listed as 48 days, while approximately 85 miles away at Peterborough Regional Health Center, the wait time was only 18 days.
St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto listed a wait time of 113 days for its general surgery, while some 58 miles away at Ross Memorial Hospital in Lindsay, one need wait only 46 days.
At Kingston General Hospital, a wait time of 73 days existed for bypass surgery, but 160 miles away, at the University Health Network in Toronto, there was only a 35-day wait.
Feel like traveling and traipsing across America to timbuktu, so you can see a doctor?
Tags: Buffalo News, Canadian health care, Canadian Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, Canadian wait times, health care, healthcare, MRIs, New York, obamacare, Ontario, Toronto, treatment wait time