Canada’s government monopoly of health insurance leads to long waits, and an increasing number of Canadians have to leave the country to get care, according to The Fraser Institute:
In 2014, more than 52,000 Canadians received non-emergency medical treatment outside Canada.
Across Canada, neurosurgeons reported the highest proportion of patients (in a specialty) travelling abroad for treatment (2.6%). The largest number of patients (in a specialty) travelled abroad for internal medicine procedures (6,559).
One explanation for patients travelling abroad to receive medical treatment may relate to the long waiting times they are forced endure in Canada’s health care system. In 2014, patients could expect to wait 9.8 weeks for medically necessary treatment after seeing a specialist—3 weeks longer than the time physicians consider to be clinically “reasonable” (6.5 weeks).
The equivalent number of Americans would be about half a million, given the different sizes of the populations. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 750,000 Americans travel abroad for medical care. However, their needs are very different: Cosmetic surgery, not brain surgery, is the largest reason.