Sunday, November 16, 2008

Advice - General #3

In speaking with other immigrants I continue to glean very useful information and sometimes even expand on it. New friends of ours recently raved about their health care provider and health clinic. This thrills me because I have always relied on stellar reviews and referrals in choosing a doctor and dentist. I've relocated several times and my experience told me that my buddy's enthusiasm for his and his husband's general practitioner was such that I should collect the contact information and hope the doctor and clinic were accepting new patients. 

In every new city I've moved to I've had to wait to become a patient of my future doctor. Not unexpectedly, the situation here in Toronto (as in the U.S.) is the same. Eric and I have a five to six month wait to become patients at our chosen health clinic. We are both healthy people so this situation is not problematic. 

Now, for minor and immediate concerns there are walk-in clinics, urgent care centers and, gods forbid, the hospital emergency room. During our three month waiting period to use OHIP benefits we had the "opportunity" to experience both the clinic and UCC. All puns aside, these visits were relatively painless and pleasant and the medical attention received more than adequate. And the non-provincial health care plan out-of-pocket cost for a Toronto walk-in medical clinic visit was less than half the price of a comparable uninsured visit to a doctors office in The States. Word. ...I'm just sayin'.

So, say you are immigrating to Canada from U.S. And let's say you are moving to a province like Ontario that has a three month waiting period to use the benefits of the provincial health insurance plan. And let's say that you have an immediate need for or just want to proactively avoid any additional waiting time to establish a relationship with your own physician. If you have social connections in the area in which you will be living and those folks are comfortable referring you to their health clinic or family doctor, in order to reduce further wait time I highly recommend that you collect the pertinent information and sign up with the clinic as soon as possible. This could even mean before you leave The States. Your residential area is key because certain health clinics have catchment areas and to be treated or seen you must live within those boundaries.

A good family doctor is an important part of one's support system. For those U.S. to Canada immigrants with health concerns, families or children, the information and suggestions above may help to reduce anxiety and transition time. 

1 comment:

Zhu said...

I have been in Canada for almost 5 years full time now and neither of us (my husband is from another Canadian city) have a GP. Just can,t find one in Ottawa... come to think of it, none of my friend has one either.

It sucks but we use the walk in clinic. Because we are still young and healthy, it's okay.. for now.