Canadians and health care: two questions please?

Question by .: Canadians and health care: two questions please?
1) What happens when you are unemployed and therefore not paying taxes? Is a welfare system in place like in France? or are you dropped on your ass like in USA? Or do part of the taxes you pay when you buy goods (books & clothing etc.) all go to pay for health care too?

2)What happens when a Canadian falls ill while visiting USA or—goodness forbid—has an accident and needs ER care. How does it work if you don’t have traveler’s health insurance? Does Canada step in to reiumburse USA or do they let you bleed to death at the ER like your average USA citizen?
@Thinking: I was wondering when I posted whether any Yank was going to come here and tell me it’s a lie about the “bleeding to death”. It happens more than you think. Yanks deny this freely but it’s true: when you go to ER the first thing they ask you is your insurance card. If you don’t have it, you are not seen, regardless of your condition. On a rare occasion they will take care of someone unconscious who is near death, but don’t count on it by default. (Yanks can deny this all they want, it’s the truth and you have news records to look up to find out for yourselves).

Best answer:

Answer by thinkingtime
All legal residents of Canada are enrolled in their home province’s health care insurance pool. It’s paid for from general taxes. This covers care inside Canada, full care in your own province and emergency care in other provinces.

If you are unemployed coverage continues as normal.

If you fall ill in another country, such as the USA, your home provincial insurance will pay ER fees to the extent of the charge in Canada. Say $ 50 for an ER visit.

US hospitals set their own rates [someone I know was charged $ 35 000 to occupy a gurney in the ER, without doctors etc].

Canadians heading South can get emergency care insurance for about $ 25 for a week. Most people opt for insurance as American health care costs are well known in Canada.

Your comment on “bleeding to death” sounds offensive used in a Canadian context. Going to the US is similar to going to an African country, get insurance or pay your bill.

Add your own answer in the comments!

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3 thoughts on “Canadians and health care: two questions please?”

  1. If you are unemployed in Canada, you usually fall into one of two categories.

    The recently unemployed are usually on “Employment Insurance”. When you are working, you pay into the EI fund. When you lose your job, you start collecting paychecks from that fund, for a max period of so many weeks. If you get a new job, the payments stop, and you start contributing to the fund again.

    Now if you have gone the maximum number of weeks and still did not find a job, then you can apply for welfare. That is designed for people who are not able to get a job for one reason or another, but still need money to feed themselves and their families, and to pay rent.

    Now your medical needs are unrelated to whether you have a job or not. If you are a resident of the province (equivalent to a state here in Canada), you are issued a healthcare card. You simply go to the nearest hospital or public clinic, give the details of your problem to the triage nurse, wait for your turn to see the doctor, and go in and get treatment. The hospital or clinic does not ask you for your credit card, any payments, or whether you can afford the treatment. They simply bill the government for whatever they needed to do for you. That can be anything from a simple diagnosis and send you home, to open heart surgery and a week or two in a hospital bed.

    What is NOT covered by your healthcare card is if you had to take an ambulance to get to the hospital, if you wanted a private room, or if you wanted to watch TV on those little screens over the hospital beds. Those cost extra and you are charged for them.

    Where the government gets the money for the healthcare system is a bit of a mystery. Yes, it is paid by taxes, but which ones precisely we do not always know. That’s because the government tends to lump all the money they collect into one big pot and then distribute the funds in the areas where they feel they are most needed. This could be why in Canada, things like roads and bridges are not in very good shape. Even though we pay some of the highest taxes on gas, driver’s licenses, registration, car insurance, etc…it’s possible that much of that money has been diverted to paying for healthcare or unemployment payments in recent years.

    As for your second question, what we normally do is take out private insurance to protect us when we are travelling. My company gives its employees a group health insurance plan so you are protected when travelling, and even covers things here that are not covered by the basic healthcare plan, such as dental and eyecare.

    So here is a scenario that happened recently: My friend (a co-worker) was at LAX airport and actually fell while on the escalators there, dislocating a shoulder. He was rushed to hospital, where they set the bone, gave him medication, and cleaned up his cuts and scrapes. They advised that he likely needed surgery for the shoulder, but that it would cost thousands of dollars and did he want to proceed. He opted to instead check out and return home, where the surgery was done in a Montreal hospital, and he recuperated at home.

    The overnight stay and treatment at the Los Angeles hospital was expensive. He had to pay for the ambulance, hospital bed, doctor’s exam, even things like $ 60 for a bandage! When he returned home, he had his surgery, several weeks of physiotherapy, prescription antibiotics and painkillers. His total cost? A few dollars for the medication which was not covered by the standard healthcare, and his private insurance paid for that.

    For the hospital stay in USA, he had to pay the bill himself, but then made a claim to his group insurance here. The insurance company sends a request for payment to the government. They pay the insurance company a maximum for the treatment that happened outside the country. Then the insurance re-imburses the patient for the entire amount, less possibly a deductible, or only the percentage that the policy covers (ours is 100%, but some are only 80%).

    Obviously, if you are unemployed or on welfare, then you probably do not have private health coverage unless you actually were able to maintain something like Blue Cross. If you are travelling to USA in search of a job, you probably pick up some travel insurance just in case. Otherwise, if you are still here in Canada and on welfare or EI, then you just use the public system.

  2. In BC you must enroll in the medical services plan, which requires insurance premiums. Your employer may take care of it. If your income is below some amount like $ 20k, you apply for premium assistance and pay nothing.

  3. Conversely, if you have private insurance in the USA they often will cover emergencies that occur in Canada and Mexico.

    People who qualify for welfare are not unemployed. You have to meet other criteria in the U.S. and medical care is not automatically included. Most people lie in order to get Medicaid but they have to because it is hard to qualify.

    Since the U.S. has 310 million people and Canada only 34 million, there is no comparison with the way health care is financed or delivered.

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