- Why would I use your company instead of shopping around for a direct source of medical care; by going through your company am I not just adding one extra step to the process?
First and foremost, it doesn’t cost you anything for our services and in many cases, by going through Timely Medical Alternatives, your procedure price will be less expensive than if you were to go directly to the source of surgery.
Furthermore, because we send so many clients to our various providers, our clients always get personalized service and extra TLC and are always given the option of the first available appointment.
Organizing your own medical care can often be stressful – often you don’t know what questions to ask, or what constitutes a ‘good’ facility. Since 2003, we have traveled all over North America meeting with Hospitals, Ambulatory Surgical Centres, Clinics and Diagnostic Imaging Facilities. We feel we have aligned ourselves with the highest quality and most competent facilities both in Canada, and close to the border in the United States. You can be assured that we’ve “done our homework” and have sought out some of the best practitioners in their field of expertise. Also, no question is ever a bad question here at Timely Medical and thus, we encourage our clients to ask as many questions as they need in order to feel comfortable. Whenever the question is medical in nature, we have a direct line to the specialists and or their assistants and are often able to get questions answered immediately.
While many of our clients are capable of coordinating their own health care in the fee-for- service sector, due to our expertise in facilitating and managing our clients’ health care, and our extensive research of facilities across the country, we are able to reduce the amount of time and steps involved in order to move from diagnosis to medical treatment.
- Is it legal to go outside the Canadian health care system in this manner?
Yes. It is illegal in Canada to “jump the queue,” but perfectly legal to leave the queue and receive treatment outside the public system.
- Doesn’t this contribute to a “two-tier” healthcare system?
There is already a multi-tier system in Canada. Workers Compensation Boards, the RCMP, the Indian Affairs Ministry, insurance companies and the Federal Corrections Department regularly pay for their clients/prisoners to receive prompt medical care at private surgical clinics in Canada. Recently, the spouse of a deputy provincial health minister sought our help to leave the queue to get private medical care. In November 2005, the CBC aired a one hour documentary on their program “The Passionate Eye” on which they pointed out the fallacy that Canada still has a one-tier system. Our organization, Timely Medical Alternatives was featured prominently, on that show.
- Isn’t jumping the queue against the Canadian way?
Indeed it is. Inmates in Federal prisons and politicians (among others) routinely jump the queue and we agree that this practice is outrageous. Jumping the queue occurs when convicted criminals and politicians are given preference over the rest of us. When they jump to the head of the queue, Mrs Brown – who had been at the head of the list – is forced to relinquish her place in line. Our clients don’t jump the queue; they leave the queue and obtain timely care outside the public health care system.
- Won’t my medical condition be treated, if I wait long enough, in the public system?
Sometimes not. Many Canadians wait unreasonably long for treatment of life threatening conditions. One of our clients was waiting for six months for surgery to repair an abdominal aortic aneurism. This condition is often likened to having a ticking time bomb inside one. Every year, scores of Canadians die while on long waiting lists for needed surgery. What some clients have told us is that the pain and discomfort they experienced while on the waitlist justified the expenditure. Others have told us that being able to return to an active lifestyle was what they needed. Still others learned from their doctor that waiting for a hip or knee replacement over an extended period of time increases the seriousness of the degeneration of the joint, resulting in a significantly longer period of rehabilitation. One 92 year old lady told us that at her age, she didn’t have time to wait for a new hip in the public system. She wanted to be able to return to working in her garden for her last few years. And she has.
- If my doctor has put me onto a waiting list, she must believe that the wait won’t affect my health? Mustn’t she?
Doctors don’t establish waitlists- governments do. The Fraser Institute has reported that “specialists now believe over 90% of waiting times are beyond clinically reasonable times”. Ask yourself if it is reasonable for Canadian men in some jurisdictions to wait 9 months for the commencement of treatment for prostate cancer after the initial diagnosis? Is it reasonable for an elderly person with kidney stones to wait 8 weeks to see a urologist? Should a woman diagnosed with breast cancer wait 18 weeks before beginning radiation therapy? Clients of Timely Medical Alternatives can access immediate care for all of the above and, in fact, any medical condition. The sooner treatment begins, the more likely it will be that the patient will have favorable results. That’s just common sense and why we say “Can you afford to wait?”.
- Once I’m on an official waitlist, am I not guaranteed to get treatment on a specific date?
It isn’t possible to determine, with any accuracy, how quickly anyone will rise to the top of the list. Even when a surgical date is eventually established, our clients report being “bumped” time and time again by more urgent cases.
- What does the government think about Canadian residents leaving the country to get timely medical care?
Who knows what governments really think. Realistically, they are happy when anyone leaves the 875,000 person waiting list-or at least they should be! The bad news is that Canada is one of only 3 countries where citizens are forbidden, by federal law, to pay a care giving medical facility for treatment. Hence the long waitlists. The good news is that, unlike the other two – Cuba and North Korea – Canadians are still free to seek care beyond the borders of their home country.
- Aren’t hospitals in the U.S. only interested in my money, in other words profiting from my circumstances?
Some are. Some of our clients have told us that they’ve received quotes of up to $120,000 for a procedure as simple as a hip replacement. There is no reason for a hip replacement to cost $120,000. In fact, the national average is $53,500, and we feel that even that is too expensive. Our clients pay under $20,000.
- Is the cost of outside medical services tax deductible?
There is a legal way to deduct up to 100% of your medical costs from your ordinary income if you are incorporated. Otherwise, your tax relief is limited to the amount by which your costs exceed 3% of your income. Ask your accountant for further details.
- Do I need a referral from my family doctor?
Generally No. Our function is to facilitate the provision of timely medical care by a select group of medical professionals who have expressed a particular interest in helping Canadians avoid long waitlists. In almost every case, the care giving facility pays our fee and, in fact, we rebate a portion of our fee to our clients. There are surgical facilitators within Canada, who charge up to $180/hour for their time. This is on top of the cost of the surgery . . .we are NOT one of these firms!
The exception to this policy pertains to urgent procedures which are not elective. These include cancer treatment & cardiac procedures. We are frequently asked to expedite these procedures in the US-which we can certainly do. The reality is, however, that in many provinces, these procedures are readily available with short waiting times. Almost invariably, once we have organized treatment for these clients, they obtain a date in the public system and cancel their US appointment. Overtime, our US providers have come to take our requests for cancer or cardiac procedures less seriously. For this reason, we have had to put in place a $500.00 advance payment charge for requests of this nature. Should the US procedure take place, this pre-payment will (of course) be credited to the cost of the procedure. If the US procedure is cancelled, this payment will be paid to the US facility and therefore cannot be refunded.
- Will the governments (federal or provincial) repay any part of the cost of my treatment?
Generally no, except under certain rare circumstances. We can help you identify whether you qualify. Alberta Health may refund about 15%-20% of out-of-pocket costs paid for private surgery by Alberta residents.
- Could we not go to the U.S. hospital directly? Why do we need to utilize the services of your company?
Yes, you could go directly. What we provide to our clients is:
· reduced fees; less than you would pay by going directly to the hospital
· fast-track, preferential scheduling for your surgery
· help with logistics (loans, currency conversion, obtaining diagnostics in Canada)
- How do I know that the surgeon, to whom I am referred, is qualified to help me?
We don’t normally refer our clients directly to physicians. Instead, we refer to the care giving facility (i.e. the hospital). The hospital ensures that their admitting physicians are licensed and board certified. Prior to your consultation you will have an opportunity, should you wish, to speak with clients of Timely Medical Alternatives Inc. who have received care from the physician with whom the hospital has arranged for your consultation. In the very few cases where we do refer directly to Canadian physicians, our clients are always able to review their credentials prior to the surgery.
By the way, many Canadian surgeons have told us how they envy their colleagues in the U.S. who are able to operate several days per week rather than only one day, as in Canada. The more a surgeon operates, the better able the surgeon is to hone his/her skills.
- What about surgical complications?
All hospitals associated with Timely Medical Alternatives are aware of the Canadian medical system. In the unlikely event of a complication during surgery, which is unrelated to the reason for traveling to the U.S. for medical care, the hospital will stabilize the patient and send him/her back to Canada by ambulance. At that point the Canadian medical system will pay for further care.
One option for Canadians travelling to the U.S. for surgery, is to purchase medical complication insurance from www.medicaltourisminsurance.com. We have no connection with this organization and cannot endorse them. Our clients should read the terms of any policy they may purchase, very carefully.
- What do Canadian doctors think about Timely Medical Alternatives Inc.?
We get many referrals directly from Canadian Physicians. These doctors place more importance on the timely treatment which their patients will receive on the private system, than they do in “keeping” their patients in the public system. For every referral we receive from a Canadian physician, Timely Medical Alternatives Inc. makes a financial contribution to the Canadian hospital of that doctor’s choice.
- Will my Canadian G.P. or specialist care for me once I return from the U.S. after my surgery?
It’s a good idea to ask him or her prior to traveling south for your procedure. On rare occasions, we have encountered doctors who refuse to help their patients after U.S. surgery. In every case, we have been able to set the client up with a more compassionate doctor who is willing to follow their recovery.
- What do you mean by “Timely”?
In general, we can arrange surgery in the U.S. within two weeks. We can arrange diagnostic scans (MRI’s and CT scans) within days in Canada.
- Why would I want to pay as much for a replacement hip (or knee) as I would for a small compact car?
Everyone has their own priorities. We can’t answer the question for you. Many of our clients have postponed alternative purchases in favour of restoring their health.
- Do you have arrangements in place with hospitals outside of North America?
No. There are several good reasons why we would never send a client to India or Thailand (for example) for procedures which are available privately in Canada or in the U.S.A.:
-We don’t refer clients to countries where immediate repatriation of the client back to Canada (in the event of a surgical complication) is not feasible.
-Secondly, the Mayo clinic recently published a study showing that the likelihood of experiencing a pulmonary embolism increases 30-fold when a surgical patient flies more than 5000 miles pre- or post- surgically. A pulmonary embolism at 30, 000 feet over the ocean while returning from surgery in Calcutta, is likely to be fatal. We have concerns about the source and purity of blood supplies used in transfusions in many foreign hospitals.
-In the unfortunate situation where a surgical procedure goes badly, suing the physician for malpractice simply isn’t an option in many countries.
-Hospitals, ironically enough, are not the safest places to be. Hospitalization in foreign countries can expose a patient to a wide spectrum of bacteria and viruses. Many of these are not commonly seen in North America and, for this reason, cannot be easily diagnosed and treated
- I have heard that despite the fact that more and more Canadians are opting to use the private option, the wait times in the public system are increasing. Why is that?
Two reasons. As our population ages, the combined efforts of the public and private systems are not able to keep up with the increased demands for medical care. Another reason is simple economics. There is little incentive to draw down wait lists in the public system, if, by causing Canadians to wait ever increasing lengths of time, many citizens will give up waiting and get their needed treatment in the private system. This saves governments money.
- If Timely Medical can expedite surgeries quicker than provincial health ministries can, and at reduced rates, shouldn’t the various provinces utilize your expertise in order to reduce waiting lists?
Of course they should – and could. The reality is that if they worked cooperatively with Timely Medical Alternatives, they would be afraid that the “public system” would be perceived as having failed. Ironically, many of our clients work in the health care system, including doctors, and nurses. Recently we expedited a private MRI for the wife of a provincial deputy minister of health.
- Are you affiliated with any other surgical referral organization in Canada? We have noticed a similarity between your website and others.
There have been several other organizations which have started up, purporting to compete with Timely Medical Alternatives. Almost all of them have since closed. Two of them have copied parts of our own website, virtually word for word! No, we are not affiliated with any other surgical referral organization in Canada. Although their imitations are flattering.