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Disillusioned American doctors heading north of the border


It's an election year and, as often is the case, healthcare is a high political priority. That inevitably leads to a comparison of healthcare between the U.S. and Canada, where universal government-funded healthcare has been around for more than half a century. WBFO Canada correspondent Dan Karpenchuk has more on one upstate New York doctor who moved north.

Emily Queenan left Rochester, saying she was disillusioned with the American healthcare system. She ended up in Penetanguishene, Ontario, about 90 miles north of Toronto, where she joined a medical practice.

Having been there now for several months, she sees, firsthand, the differences between the U.S. and Canadian healthcare systems.
Queenan says in the U.S., those without insurance or money were reluctant to see a doctor. At least one survey suggests that in 2014, as many as 36% of Americans postponed or decided against medical attention because of the costs. In Ontario, where people are covered by provincial health insurance, Queenan found a marked difference.

"It doesn't matter whether you're the CEO of the company or the part-time landscaper of that company, you have access to the same health insurance, the same benefits," said Queenan.

Queenan says there are problems with the Canadian system: long wait times, sometimes several weeks or months, and a lack of specialists. But she says despite those and some political issues, there seems to be more of a commitment to universal health care and she has no regrets abut making the move.
She's not alone. The Canadian Institute for Health Information, which keeps track of how many American doctors move north, says between 2010 and 2014, more than 400 packed up and came to Canada.

WBFO’s comprehensive news coverage extends into Southern Ontario and Dan Karpenchuk is the station’s voice from the north. The award-winning reporter covers binational issues, including economic trends, the environment, tourism and transportation.