Canadian travelers may need to access healthcare in other countries. They may be travelling and they or a family member has a medical emergency requiring care. If a medical emergency occurs, it’s important they know about the high healthcare costs around the world.
Healthcare Emergencies in Other Countries
Because Canadians can receive a lower quality of care elsewhere, outlining costs and concerns is important. Other countries may not have the same medical practices or take the same infection control measures.
In Canada, every citizen has access to healthcare because of the national health care system. With emergencies, the government pays for the costs of emergency care. This applies to all legal Canadian citizens. But, when travelling to other countries, it’s a different story.
Price Differences by Way of Comparison
In exploring what emergency healthcare costs are like in other countries, the highest average costs are in the U.S. for the most part.
Comparison Costs of MRIs
Take an MRI, for example:
In the U.S., an MRI scan will run about $1,497 CAD. But, some parts of the U.S. charge as much as $4,054 CAD.
In New Zealand, an MRI will run about $1,084 CAD.
In India, an MRI costs $481 CAD.
Australia would only charge $288 CAD.
And, Spain would charge $242 CAD.
To find that people are paying an additional $3,000 for the same scan shows an obviously unregulated healthcare market in some parts of the world.
Comparison Costs of Some Medications
Another area where price differences are concerning and vary around the world is with medication.
Patients that take the drug Avastin, for example:
In the U.K., Avastin will cost $629 CAD.
In Switzerland, it costs $2,343 CAD.
And, the U.S. would charge an average of $5,256 CAD.
What’s concerning is data taken from the 95th percentile in the United States, shows the drug price as high as $11,811 CAD. But, the U.S. isn’t always the most expensive. Oxycontin costs an average of $354 CAD but is $789 CAD in the U.K.
Comparison Costs to Receive Medical Help
Medical costs vary in different countries. And, for those who travel internationally, it confirms why travel insurance is important and should be required.
OECD Health Data states that for 2017 per capita medical help costs were:
$5,522 CAD in the U.K.
$6,357 CAD in Canada.
$13,840 CAD in the United States (NHEA 2016 estimates per capita).
Comparison Costs for Emergency Transportation
Ambulance costs for emergency transportation can also vary:
In Canada, ambulance fees can range from $321 CAD to more than $650 CAD.
In Australia, ambulances are free for some states. But, in other states, the fee is $650 to $1,600 CAD.
In the U.S., depending on the distance to the nearest hospital costs can range from $700 to $3,600 CAD.
Will Your Health Insurance Cover International Travel?
Given the high costs for medical care, travelers should ensure their medical insurance covers the country they visit. While no one can predict a medical emergency, travelers should be prepared. To avoid high fees for medical services, speak with a healthcare provider about any upcoming travel.
Keep in mind that a travel-related medical emergency has other related costs.
These can include:
Hospital stays in another country: Based on earlier data, a hospital stay in the U.S. might be roughly 46 percent higher than in Canada and 40 percent higher than in the U.K.
Cancelled flights and booking new flights: Booking new flights can vary in costs. It depends on when a person travels and their destination. But, cancelled flights might incur a charge of $100 to $350 based on estimates for WestJet, Air Canada and Air Transat.
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