Why this U.S. doctor is moving to Canada

After five years of constant fighting with multiple private insurance companies to get paid, Dr. Emily Queenan decided to try her luck up north

By Emily S. Queenan, M.D.
The Toronto Star, April 28, 2015

I’m a U.S. family physician who has decided to relocate to Canada. The hassles of working in the dysfunctional health care “system” in the U.S. have simply become too intense.

I’m not alone. According to a physician recruiter in Windsor, Ont., over the past decade more than 100 U.S. doctors have relocated to her city alone. More generally, the Canadian Institute for Health Information reports that Canada has been gaining more physicians from international migration than it’s been losing.

Like many of my U.S. counterparts, I’m moving to Canada because I’m tired of doing daily battle with the same adversary that my patients face – the private health insurance industry, with its frequent errors in processing claims (the American Medical Association reports that one of every 14 claims submitted to commercial insurers are paid incorrectly); outright denials of payment (about one to five per cent); and costly paperwork that consumes about 16 per cent of physicians’ working time, according to arecent journal study.

I’ve also witnessed the painful and continual shifting of medical costs onto my patients’ shoulders through rising co-payments, deductibles and other out-of-pocket expenses. According to a survey conducted by the Commonwealth Fund, 66 million – 36 per cent of Americans -- reported delaying or forgoing needed medical care in 2014 due to cost.