U.S. doctor who moved to Ont. shares observations on Canadian health care
Published Saturday, December 26, 2015 9:19PM EST
Last Updated Sunday, December 27, 2015 1:08AM EST
Disillusioned with the U.S. healthcare system, Dr. Emily Queenan moved from Rochester, N.Y. to join a medical practice in Penetanguishene, Ontario this fall. Now she’s sharing her observations on the Canadian medicare system, where she says it’s easier to get patients in for follow-up visits but harder for them to see a specialist.
Queenan, in general practice, said she found her patients in the U.S. system would often pay thousands of dollars out of pocket because private insurance never covers the whole bill. “I would see people go without care because of they were afraid of the costs,” she said.
Dr. Queenan and her staff in Rochester were spending more and more time trying to get reimbursed at the expense of hands-on care.
She wrote in her blog post, "Why This U.S. Doctor Is Moving to Canada" that she wasn’t alone – more than 100 U.S. doctors have relocated to Windsor, Ont. in the past decade.
“According to a survey conducted by the Commonwealth Fund, 66 million -- 36 per cent of Americans -- reported delaying or forgoing needed medical care in 2014 due to cost,” she wrote.
The Canadian Institute for Health Information keeps track of U.S. doctors moving to Canada and the recent numbers are:
- 2010: 88
- 2011: 63
- 2012: 76
- 2013: 92
- 2014: 116
“I think you would be hard pressed to find a primary care physician who felt I was crazy for leaving the United States,” Queenan said of her American colleagues.
In autumn 2014, Queenan moved her family to Penetanguishene, a scenic town on Georgian Bay, and a town in desperate need of doctors.
Four months later, she says she’s finding it easier to get paid for her work.
And it's easier to get patients to return for follow up care, she said, “because here money isn't at stake."
“I love that it doesn't matter that you are the CEO of the company or the part time landscaper, that you have access to the same health insurance, the same benefits .”
On the downside, Queenan was taken aback by the long waits to see a specialist, and she is now like other physicians in the midst of a cost-cutting battle between the Ontario government and its doctors.
Despite this tumultuousness, Queenan says, “there is still this commitment to primary care -- to primary care universal health care -- there is no worry that is going to go away.”
So far she says she has no regrets trading what she calls the injustices of the American system for the compromises that make up the Canadian one.
With a report from CTV’s Avis Favaro