In late Spring 2008, my husband and I took a short vacation which included a couple of days in beautiful Nelson, BC. In the days before we left home he had been concerned about a wound that was developing on the scar from his hip replacement surgery of several years prior, but because it wasn’t an open wound we decided it would be safe to proceed with our vacation plans.
By the time we reached Nelson, however, the wound had started weeping. Worried about the possibility of infection setting in and damaging the work done to his hip, we decided that he needed to see a doctor.
We found the Nelson hospital and signed in with the Emergency department, at which point we discovered that my husband had left his Care Card at home. Without a Care Card, the hospital had no idea who he was, whether he was signed up with MSP (our provincial plan), or whether he was even living in Canada.
Neither of us had ever been in this position! We’d always had the luxury of just walking into any doctor’s office, clinic, or hospital, presenting our Care Card, and receiving excellent, timely treatment. What would happen this time? Would we be refused care? Would we have to pay an exorbitant amount of money prior to receiving care? Would a shockingly high bill be sent at a future date? Would we end up drowning in paperwork because of his oversight?
None of the above.
The hospital administrators took down our address and treated my husband, enabling us to continue our vacation without undue concern. My husband was told to call MSP when we arrived home, give them his Care Card number and the details of his visit to Emergency, and everything would be taken care of. We were cautioned that we might receive a bill if the hospital’s processing of our visit and his call to MSP crossed, but were assured that a phone call would straighten out the situation.
So, we enjoyed the rest of our vacation. When we arrived home he made the call to MSP, and that was it. No bills, no paperwork, no headache.
My husband continued getting treatment for the wound, which unfortunately ended up requiring minor surgery and hospitalization for treatment for nearly a week. I say unfortunately because surgery and hospitalization is never anyone’s desired way to spend a week, not because it was a financial problem. I have no idea what that visit cost – we never received a bill. Oh, I forgot – we did pay for him to rent a TV for the week. For some strange reason that isn’t covered by MSP! 😉
Oh, and that hip replacement he had a few years back? We never saw a bill for that operation, either, nor the week he spent in the hospital following the surgery, nor the consultations with his doctors before and after.
Have I mentioned that I love the health care my country offers its citizens? Thank, you, Canada!
My previous “health care in Canada” posts:
Health care, Canadian-style
Health care, Canadian-style – Part 2