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Report backs fairness in foreign health care

Patients who travel across foreign borders for medical care will betreated with due care and attention from provincial coffers, ifAlberta’s ombudsman has his way.

Patients who travel across foreign borders for medical care will be treated with due care and attention from provincial coffers, if Alberta’s ombudsman has his way.

A report dubbed “Prescription for Fairness,” drafted by ombudsman Gord Button, was inspired by a laundry list of complaints from Albertans who say they were denied funding for necessary, and sometimes life-saving out-of-country medical care.

On the advice of a physician, Emerald Raho jetted her twin daughters to Chicago for treatment of a severe sleep disorder in 2006. The family paid $7,000 out-of-pocket when Raho alleges Alberta Health and Wellness refused to foot the bill.

If all 53 of ombudsman Gord Button’s recommendations are approved by the health authority, patients will be given a crystal clear rationale as to why their financing requests are denied.

“At the end of the day, applicants may still be denied funding, but at least they’ll understand why,” Button said.

The investigation ruled out cost-saving as a motive by the board to deny funding, he said, adding complainants with astronomical bills didn’t take precedent in the investigation.

“The dollar figure is not significant to us in our investigations, it’s whether the person was treated fairly or not,” he said.

 
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