Friday, January 02, 2009
The upsides and downsides of Canadian healthcare
We got to pick the hospital where we wanted to deliver the baby (don't believe anyone who says that in Canada you can't pick what doctor or hospital you go to -- it's totally untrue). At LaSalle General all families are given a private room where the baby is delivered and where the mother remains for a couple of days after delivery (normally 2 days for term babies, or 4 days if it was a c-section birth). In our case, after the normal 48 hours in the delivery room we were transferred to a different private room with a regular double bed where we stayed for another 8 days while the pediatrician kept Lev in the nursery for observation and for treatment (when he got jaundice). We had to provide our own sheets and get our own food at the cafeteria -- but it was still a room at a major hospital.
Now, in the US, 10 total days rooming at a hospital plus care/treatment for a preemie baby would have cost me probably upward of $20-30K, depending on the hospital. Even with decent health insurance, that would have probably left me with $2-3K after all the co-pays and deductibles. I'm glad that at no point in these rough 10 days I had to worry whether my HMO would cover this or that procedure, or whether I would have to dip into my retirement account in order to cover the expenses. Tommy Douglas, you're my hero.
On the downside, now that we're done with the hospital, it's practically impossible to find a pediatrician that is taking patients -- there is a very bad ongoing shortage of doctors (and nurses) all across Canada, and particularly in Quebec (partly due to its French language requirements). We're not stranded -- for scheduled things we can go to the clinic (a "CLSC"), and the pediatrician that treated Lev at the hospital will continue seeing him until we find a local doctor, even if this means that we have to trek all the way out to Dollard-des-Ormeaux from Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue. It may look close enough on the map, but it's different when you don't have a car.
We're on a couple of waiting lists, but I don't think we'll find a pediatrician or a GP within local distance for a while yet. You guys in the US need to implement your own government-insured health care just so our doctors stop running away down South for the big bucks. ;)