Private Orthopaedic Surgery In Canada
To start with, 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.
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; 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 anyone in the province they are registered in.
Another way that surgeons can provide private surgery is to register in two different provinces.
- In one province (ie. Alberta) a surgeon can elect to be paid by public funding only. This surgeon cannot provide private surgery on Albertans in Alberta.
- In a second province (ie. British Columbia) the same surgeon can elect to accept private payments only (no public funding). For all intents and purposes, this surgeon has ‘opted out’ and therefore can provide private surgery in British Columbia on anyone.
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 who has opted-out from receiving public funding in your home province.
Buyer Beware – Queue jumping is prohibited.
There are Canadian companies that offer private surgical assessments and may create the expectation they can accelerate public-funded surgery in your home province.
This can be misleading and is not true. No private company or privately paid surgeon can move you up on any waiting list for public funded surgery in Canada.
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 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