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Canadians go to U.S. hospitals for care

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Canadian patients go to U.S. hospitals for urgent or critical care through agreements between Canadian health agencies and U.S. hospitals, officials said.

The agreements show how a country with a national healthcare system – which is not being discussed in Congress – manages demand for care, rather than building new facilities, the Detroit Free Press reported Thursday.

For instance, patient Michael Vujovich, 61, of Windsor, Ontario, was taken to nearby Detroit’s Henry Ford Hospital for an angioplasty procedure to widen narrowed blood vessels after he went to a Windsor hospital in April.

Vujovich said the U.S. backup doesn’t show a gap in Canada’s system, but shows how it works.

“I go to the hospital in Windsor and two hours later, I’m done having angioplasty in Detroit,” he told the Free Press.

His $38,000 bill was covered by the Ontario health ministry.

Critics of Canada’s healthcare system – publicly funded, paying for medically necessary care determined by provinces, with most services provided by private entities – often cite gaps in Canada’s care to argue that the United States should not allow its current debate over healthcare to move to a socialized system.

But Dr. Uwe Reinhardt, a Princeton University health economist who studies the U.S. and Canadian health systems, told the Free Press arrangements with cities like Detroit “are a terrific way to manage capacity” given Canada’s smaller healthcare budget.

Canadian healthcare spending is less than 11 percent of gross domestic product while the U.S. percentage tops 15 percent.

“This is efficient,” he said. “At least in Canada, you don’t worry about going broke to pay for healthcare. You do here.”

© 2009 UPI. Displayed by permission. All rights reserved.

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