The Canadian woman couldn’t get her first appointment for eight months, although it was free. The American got an appointment right away, but it cost a fortune. Kira Peikoff at Slate:
When [Canadian patient, Laura Davis,] discovered that she was 10 weeks pregnant, she went to her regular doctor to get a referral to an OB-GYN. She was a healthy woman with a normal pregnancy, so her specialist visit was not prioritized by the system. It was so low a priority, in fact, that the first available OB-GYN appointment was when she was eight months pregnant. This is the norm, according to Davis. Until you’re a few months away from your due date, you’re seen by only your general practitioner. A study conducted in 2012 by the Fraser Institute, a leading Canadian public policy think tank, found that the median wait time in Newfoundland across all specialties from a patient’s initial visit with a general practitioner to treatment by a specialist is 26.8 weeks. “The problem is wait times,” Davis says. “Even if you have money, you can’t buy a faster appointment. If you have a high-risk pregnancy, you would get in a lot quicker, but for a normal one, you probably wouldn’t get in until your last trimester.”
[U.S. patient, Julie Bryant] decided it was time to pay out of pocket to see a better doctor — and since she lives in the U.S., she could. So she found a blog on which New York women leave comments about their experiences with different OB-GYNs, and then made an appointment with Dr. Janice Marks for the very next day. Dr. Marks’ practice is completely private; the reason she doesn’t take insurance, according to Bryant, is that she doesn’t have to. Marks initially spent an hour and a half talking to Bryant about the plan for her care, asking her preferences, and reassuring her. During the following months, which included a scare involving early contractions around 22 weeks, Bryant was always able to reach Marks personally within minutes through her answering service. Marks even called her unprompted during a vacation in Colorado just to check up on her. The total cost out-of-pocket to Marks for all of Bryant’s visits? $12,500.