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Canadian healthcare versus NHS

Canadian healthcare versus NHS

Old Apr 13th 2012, 9:20 am
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Default Canadian healthcare versus NHS

How does Canadian publically funded healthcare compare to the NHS? It's common knowledge both systems are under pressure and there will be big changes in the coming decades, although I have no idea what changes are afoot in Canada.

I'm also not interested in private health insurance. I couldn't afford Bupa cover for the family in the UK, I don't buy private health cover in NZ because despite being cheap the cover is not very comprehensive, so I wouldn't expect to be able to afford private health cover if I was living in Canada either.

Am I correct in thinking that you pay for healthcare in a similar way to paying National Insurance in the UK, via your paypacket as opposed to funding coming from general taxation. What happens with non-working people such as students, stay at home mothers and retired people?

Are there any glaring deficiencies where Canadian public healthcare fails miserably compared to the NHS. Are there any medical conditions or lifesaving treatments that are not covered? I am aware that prescription medicines can be more costly than in UK, but how much more are we talking? Are things like vaccinations and blood tests free?

And dental care. In the UK NHS dental care is reasonable and cheap (I don't get why people moan about the cost) but can be hard to find an NHS dentist in some regions. The majority of orthodontic treatment is free under the age of 19, but not for adults in most circumstances. In NZ the quality of dental care is superb, but so expensive most people will only visit a dentist if something is hurting and kids only get one free appointment per year, with very limited free treatment for cavities. Orthodontic treatment for both kids and adults is so expensive, even 2 income well off families struggle with the costs, and most people simply can't afford it. What about Canada?

And other complaints about healthcare that often surprise recent immigrants from UK?
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Old Apr 13th 2012, 10:26 am
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Default Re: Canadian healthcare versus NHS

Dental care is prohibitively expensive and there's a cult of dental perfection for children. Otherwise, I've managed quite well, despite having numerous children, using only OHIP and no supplementary insurance. Apart from teeth the only thing I found very expensive was a surgical boot; I suggest not breaking anything that will need a support created for the specific case.
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Old Apr 13th 2012, 10:37 am
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Default Re: Canadian healthcare versus NHS

Originally Posted by dbd33 View Post
the only thing I found very expensive was a surgical boot; I suggest not breaking anything that will need a support created for the specific case.
Are you talking about surgical garments and supports, or special footwear?
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Old Apr 13th 2012, 11:40 am
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Default Re: Canadian healthcare versus NHS

As with all things Canadian, Healthcare quality and delivery varies from Province to Province. It is, largely (completely?) a Provincial government responsibility rather than a federal one. There is, no "National Health Service" per se. So our experiences of it will be beneficial to you if you are moving to our areas, but less so if you are moving elsewhere.

Healthcare is free at the point of delivery like the NHS. It also suffers many of the same problems as the NHS - underfunding, pressures from an aging population, beaucracy etc etc. Unlike the UK, there is no equivalent to BUPA/PPP i.e. a private or insured second stream of healthcare. It's actually illegal for such a thing to exist in Canada AFAIK. You might not consider this a bad thing, I do, but then I had BUPA coverage in the UK.

As dbd33 points out, dental care is expensive and not covered by your provincial health plan. So $1400 for a crown and many $$$ for cosmetic work. Most people have dental coverage through their employers healthcare plan. Mine picks up 80% of dental costs for example.

Prescription drugs can also be expensive. Unlike the UK you do not just pay a dispensing fee, you pay the cost of the drugs. Again, many people have prescription drug coverage through their employers healthcare plan. If you don't have that, then life can be tough. As an example, my wife was recently on anticoagulation meds following hospitalisation for a blood clot. The day she came home I collected $734 worth of medication from the local pharmacy. My healthcare plan picked up all bar the dispensing fee.

In general, we've had positive experiences of the health care system here. That includes an ER visit (which involved both a coastguard rescue boat and an ambulance), routine diagnostic tests, having two children and emergency admission to hospital with aforementioned blood clot. Wait times to see a Specialist, have a routine procedure/operation can be every bit as much as on the NHS. Hence my lamenting that we don't have the BUPA option. If you have the dosh, you can get private healthcare on demand. You just have to head south of the border.

HTH,
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Old Apr 13th 2012, 11:56 am
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Default Re: Canadian healthcare versus NHS

Originally Posted by Pine Cone View Post
Are you talking about surgical garments and supports, or special footwear?
That was a support for a broken ankle but any split type thing would be the same.
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Old Apr 13th 2012, 1:18 pm
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Default Re: Canadian healthcare versus NHS

Many people have a group insurance plan with their job that pays a large part of the expenses not covered by the provincial health scheme.

For example the costs of your medication are covered either in full or in part.

Students generally pay into a student group insurance scheme and get the same protection. If they live at home they and their parents have a group plan they can be covered by this as well (or opt out of the student plan)

In my province there is a shortage of family doctors. They are almost impossible to get unless you have a chronic condition. Instead you have to go to a drop in clinic and you can literally wait all day to be seen. My wife spent 8 hours the last time. You also have to carry your medical card around with you all the time and renew it every few years or they may charge you for your treatment.

In my province ambulances are not covered by the scheme so you have to pay for them, and they charge based on distance. I have had to drive seriously ill people to the hospital on more than one occasion as they did not want to pay for the ambulance and wanted to go to a particular hospital.

Dental is expensive but usually of a very high standard. Also with some dentist you can negotiate discounts if you are not covered by insurance. My son needs about $3000 dollars worth of work at the moment, so after i moaned a few times they agreed to give me a 25% discount.

My dentist often refers you to a specialist for specific work who charge even more. A lot of the work they do is preventative. They show you an X-ray and say that in a couple of years this might cause you a problem. They give you a choice but say that they charge more once it becomes a real problem.

On the radio today I heard that there are too many doctors in Medical school at the moment and that we are going to have a glut of doctors. They want the province to limit admissions, but the people who cannot get a family doctor or have to wait months to see a specialist find this hard to believe. But they say that doctors on their own are not enough, they need new hospitals, nurses and other support specialist to deal with these problems.

You can also put medical expenses on your tax return and get a proportion of it back.
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Old Apr 13th 2012, 1:29 pm
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Default Re: Canadian healthcare versus NHS

Originally Posted by britsnake View Post
Many people have a group insurance plan with their job that pays a large part of the expenses not covered by the provincial health scheme.

For example the costs of your medication are covered either in full or in part.

Students generally pay into a student group insurance scheme and get the same protection. If they live at home they and their parents have a group plan they can be covered by this as well (or opt out of the student plan)

In my province there is a shortage of family doctors. They are almost impossible to get unless you have a chronic condition. Instead you have to go to a drop in clinic and you can literally wait all day to be seen. My wife spent 8 hours the last time. You also have to carry your medical card around with you all the time and renew it every few years or they may charge you for your treatment.

In my province ambulances are not covered by the scheme so you have to pay for them, and they charge based on distance. I have had to drive seriously ill people to the hospital on more than one occasion as they did not want to pay for the ambulance and wanted to go to a particular hospital.

Dental is expensive but usually of a very high standard. Also with some dentist you can negotiate discounts if you are not covered by insurance. My son needs about $3000 dollars worth of work at the moment, so after i moaned a few times they agreed to give me a 25% discount.

My dentist often refers you to a specialist for specific work who charge even more. A lot of the work they do is preventative. They show you an X-ray and say that in a couple of years this might cause you a problem. They give you a choice but say that they charge more once it becomes a real problem.

On the radio today I heard that there are too many doctors in Medical school at the moment and that we are going to have a glut of doctors. They want the province to limit admissions, but the people who cannot get a family doctor or have to wait months to see a specialist find this hard to believe. But they say that doctors on their own are not enough, they need new hospitals, nurses and other support specialist to deal with these problems.

You can also put medical expenses on your tax return and get a proportion of it back.
I haven't found the standard of dental care any different in Canada to what I received in England. I paid my dental care in England in full (non-NHS), a large proportion of my dental expenses are covered by insurance over here.

The "preventative" argument used in Canada is bullshit. Friends of mine paid huge sums to have their very young children's jaws broken to "avoid them develping overbites/underbites" in the future. Was that really necessary? How much more would it have cost to correct such "issues" in later life? How many non North Americans struggle with using their teeth as a result of having an overbite?

I have found care obtained on both sides of the Atlantic great, OK, and downright dire. Save for the cost of medication and the advent of private medical care (in the non dental sense) on this side of the Atlantic, I believe the systems are similar. The practitioners complain about being overworked and underpaid, the general public all profess to want "better healthcare", but most are unwilling to pay the increased taxes required to achieve it.
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Old Apr 13th 2012, 1:33 pm
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Default Re: Canadian healthcare versus NHS

Originally Posted by britsnake View Post

In my province there is a shortage of family doctors. They are almost impossible to get unless you have a chronic condition. Instead you have to go to a drop in clinic and you can literally wait all day to be seen. My wife spent 8 hours the last time. You also have to carry your medical card around with you all the time and renew it every few years or they may charge you for your treatment.


Dental is expensive but usually of a very high standard. Also with some .
I agree about Doctors..i have never been able to find a family doctor that was accepting new patients and will try again now i am in Calgary.

I don't agree that dental care is of a very high standard..expensive yes high standard no...for example i was told i had decay under my two crowns and would need to be sorted and new crowns fitted all for $4000..my company coverage didn't stretch that far so decided to have one done in 2011 and the other this year...so i had one done filled and new crown put on etc...2months later i had an abscess on the same tooth and just last month the crown broken in half and came away completely..now i need a root canal and another crown for another $2000. The other crown i left untouched i had done back in the UK 15 years ago no issues what so ever.

Up shot i was at home in the UK in March saw my old dentist and he says he will do my root canal and crown next time i am home for 350 GBP...he also said there was nothing wrong with my old crown or the tooth underneath.
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Old Apr 13th 2012, 1:41 pm
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Default Re: Canadian healthcare versus NHS

I've heard crutches are rented.

Blood tests are free. Orthotic inserts for shoes aren't.

Even if you don't have medical coverage, in most provinces the annual cost of prescriptions is limited to around 3%-5% of net income. It's something not many seem to know about and those that do know of it view it as help if you're on a low income.

But if you're diabetic and your testing/injection supplies are $250 a month plus insulin $100 a month that's $4200 a year you can be on $100k and you'll get something; half of it if on $50k net, for example.

Similarly if you're spending $150-$300 a month on Fibromyalgia meds.

Even blood pressure/cholesterol meds can set you back $150 a month. In a province with a 3% scheme, that could see you eligible on $60k.
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Old Apr 13th 2012, 1:58 pm
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Default Re: Canadian healthcare versus NHS

can I just point out that the healthcare plans from your employer that cover 80% of your prescription and other costs not covered by the provincial healthcare are a cost to you out of your wages.
I pay $30 a week towards my healthcare plan, I appreciate that its a lot less as its through my employer and its not bad for a family of four, but that cost is still your own.

Personally I prefer the standard of dental care here, when my children went for a checkup (7 and 4) their teeth were cleaned and a flouride bath used, they had to demonstrate cleaning their teeth and the oldest was shown how to floss. Back in England their teeth were counted, oh yes they have some.
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Old Apr 13th 2012, 2:24 pm
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Default Re: Canadian healthcare versus NHS

If you think you can survive without the odd tooth then an extraction is around $200.
Havent Canadians always thought that the Brits have less than ideal dental hygiene when it comes to teeth?
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Old Apr 13th 2012, 2:31 pm
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Default Re: Canadian healthcare versus NHS

Originally Posted by Former Lancastrian View Post
Havent Canadians always thought that the Brits have less than ideal dental hygiene when it comes to teeth?
Thats the impression I am getting, although I do draw the line at breaking my childs jaw to align it perfectly
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Old Apr 13th 2012, 2:40 pm
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Default Re: Canadian healthcare versus NHS

I think one issue with the Cdn system is support services, like physio, are NOT covered.

My shoulder was buggered up and needed physio, at $60-80 a pop my work benefit coverage didnt go far (maxed out annually at $500). I definitively took longer to recover because after a while paying some bloke to inflict pain on you looses its appeal.

On the other hand, my brother broke his leg in the UK and was on almost daily physio during his recovery, including home visits, that just wouldnt happen here, it would be prohibitively expensive after a while.

My wife goes for surgery in about a month, and will need physio on the ankle afterwards, but I am really not looking forward to paying for it after the first month or so. I know people with debilitating sciatica who just dont get the treatment they should due to the expense.


The level of care within the system is fine in my experience, but the downfall is in the surrounding care that OHIP etc doesnt cover.

Last edited by iaink; Apr 13th 2012 at 2:43 pm.
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Old Apr 13th 2012, 2:44 pm
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Default Re: Canadian healthcare versus NHS

Originally Posted by Former Lancastrian View Post
If you think you can survive without the odd tooth then an extraction is around $200.
Havent Canadians always thought that the Brits have less than ideal dental hygiene when it comes to teeth?
Originally Posted by Howefamily View Post
Thats the impression I am getting, although I do draw the line at breaking my childs jaw to align it perfectly
It's the myth that runs on due to inexperienced generalisation.

It's the same way all Muslims are fanatics, all Americans are fat, and all Canadians are nice.

My dentist here made fun of a filling i'd had and said he'd need to touch it up to "make it Canadian". It was funny because his colleague performed the procedure the year before

In my experience, there is no difference in both countries for medical treatment on the most part. Obviously individuals have different experience.

One thing to note about insurance coverage through employers, etc, is that a cap is usually in place. For example, i get 100% coverage on dental but if i have a check-up and/or cleaning more frequently than every 9 months, i pay a fee.

I'm currently having physio on my knee, which is 100% covered to a maximum amount. After that i pay. In the UK my treatment was covered after injury.

Last edited by el_richo; Apr 13th 2012 at 2:46 pm.
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Old Apr 13th 2012, 3:10 pm
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Default Re: Canadian healthcare versus NHS

Originally Posted by BristolUK View Post
I've heard crutches are rented.

I borrowed mine from the hospital, no charge. But, anything fitted to a specific body is another matter.
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