Private Orthopaedic Surgery
Contrary to popular belief, there are Canadian surgeons who provide private orthopaedic surgery in Canada on Canadians.
The remainder of this article is to explain how this is allowed and how it impacts you.
The Canada Health Act was designed to ensure that all Canadians have equal access to publicly funded medical services.
To accomplish this, physicians and surgeons are prohibited from receiving money from both the public health system and from private payors in the same province they are registered in.
Wherever a physician or surgeon is registered to practice, they can only choose one payment method for their services in that province – it’s either public or private but not both.
There are some surgeons in Canada who have elected not to be paid by public funding at all. This is called “opting out” and – because these surgeons aren’t receiving any public funding – they can provide private surgery on Canadians in that province. To learn if a surgeon has opted out in your province, please contact their office directly.
Another way that surgeons can provide private surgery is to register in two different provinces. In one province they may elect to be paid by public health while in another province they may elect to opt out and thereby be allowed to perform private surgery in the province they opt out in.
Bottom line, if you want to undergo private surgery in Canada you must either (a) travel outside the province you reside in or (b) find a surgeon in your home province who has opted-out from receiving public funding.
There are Canadian companies that offer private assessments with a surgeon that may create the expectation the their surgeon(s) can accelerate public funded surgery in your home province.
Make no mistake, no private company or surgeon offering private surgical assessments can move you up on any waiting list for public funded surgery in Canada. Typically, companies and surgeons who offer private assessments will offer to perform surgery however it will be done in another province or country and for a private fee (not public funded).
Lastly, given that post-surgical complications can occur after any kind of surgery, – before electing private surgery – you are encouraged to discuss exactly what kind of medical support (including costs) you will receive from your surgeon once you are discharged and /or return home. In addition, you are also encouraged to discuss what kind of support you will receive from your family physician and a physiotherapist for ongoing care.
Private Orthopaedic Surgery Outside Canada
There are no restrictions on Canadians undergoing private surgery anywhere outside of Canada.
Given that post-surgical complications can occur after any kind of surgery, – before electing private surgery – you are encouraged to discuss exactly what kind of medical support (including costs) you will receive from your surgeon once you are discharged and /or return home. In addition you are also encouraged to discuss what kind of support you will receive from your family physician for ongoing care.
Terry Kane, Registered Physiotherapist (Calgary, Alberta)
Founder | Owner, OrthopaedicsCanada.com