Testing the healthcare service

We hadn’t intended to test the healthcare service until we were covered by BC Medical Services Plan (MSP), which has a 3 month from month of landing qualification period. Maybe we should have know better when the lads bought rollerblades within the first week of arrival. The short version is this. I ended up at the Royal Columbian Hospital, New West with son in tow to have a wounded hand stitched. The wound was caused by protruding barbs on a chain link fence that had been grabbed when bailing out from a downhill run.

We were met on the door by a volunteer who placed us in the triage process. When I chatted to the volunteer he said that he gave up a night every couple of weeks as he was a ‘heavy user’ of the place when he was a kid. He was simply giving something back, a lesson for us all.

After triage came admin, and that of course meant breaking out the credit card. The MSP is a compulsory medical insurance that covers most healthcare needs. For a family of 4 it’s around $110 per month. But of course we didn’t have a Care Card so had to pay before seeing a doctor. The opening pitch by the hospital staff was $600. I guess they must have heard the loud gulping noise as the next question was about our visitor status. Fortunately I had our passports with us so could prove our permanent residents status and this entitled us a huge discount, the card was only weighed down by $170 rather than $600.

Anyway, a serious cleaning of the wound, 4 stitches and a tetanus jab later we were on our way home. Elliot’s hand has healed really well and fortunately our landlord is a nurse and she removed the stitches so we didn’t have to pay out for that.

Lessons learnt. When emigrating, standard travel insurance will only cover you if your trip starts AND terminates in the UK, therefore we were not covered. You can buy short term cover when in Canada and although expensive is probably worthwhile until MSP kicks in. When we realised that the lads would be on zip wires, canoes, rafts and ‘blobbing’  (check out the video below) on retreat, the cost seemed to be very reasonable.

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