Vermonters cross the border to beat the high cost of medical care
Newport - Derby Line - Stanstead (PQ)
If you want to see a doctor in Newport, Vermont it will likely cost you in excess of $75.00. You may not even get to see a doctor. You may have to be satisfied with a nurse practioner and the time spent with you may be only five minutes. If your complaint is difficult to diagnose such as a backache and sciatica you may be faced with further costs in the thousands of dollars for MRIs, Physical Therapy Sessions, and of course drugs. If you are one of the few with insurance, some of these costs may be defrayed. Notice, I said defrayed. You or your employer will pay a great deal in the end no matter what.
Is it any wonder that middle class Vermonters and those visiting the state are crossing the border? In northeastern Vermont, otherwise known as the Northeast Kingdom, uininsured Vermonters cross the border at Derby Line and visit Doctor Giles Bouchard. This Anglophone doctor has been running a practice out of his house on the main street of Stanstead for about 40 years. You don't make an appointment to see him. Instead you simply walk into his waiting room and wait. If there are ten people ahead of you, you wait a long time. But when you get to see him, he gives you just as much time as the medical practitioners in Newport and he only charges $15.00 or less! I say less because if you really don't have any money, your examination is free!
State of the Art Canadian Pharmacy opens - Was it built for Americans?
As a licensed practitioner in Quebec (and also in the United States incidentally) Dr. Bouchard is able to prescribe drugs which you can purchase at Pharmacie Diane Vaillancourt , a state-of-the-art 9,300-square-foot pharmacy located only a few blocks away. The pharmacy has a huge parking lot which can accomodate tour buses and a check in area which reminds one of US Customs and Immigration at Burlington International Airport. On average the cost of drugs is about one third less. A month's supply of a well known blood pressure medicine is about $47.00 Canadian. Compare that with the US price of about $67.00
There appears to be nothing illegal in what Dr. Bouchard and other Canadian doctors are doing. Citiizens of the US may visit Canadian doctors any time they wish. Provided an examination occurs, US citizens have little difficulty purchasing at least a month's supply of prescription drugs, and bringing them back across the border. The drugs must be declared and it is a good idea to have a copy of the prescription with you for customs examination. If you don't have an insurance plan that covers the high cost of drugs, then crossing the border and finding a Canadian doctor just makes good economic sense.
Doctors may be in a border war
Dr. Bouchard's business is not good for the business of medicine across the border in Newport. In some circles, you might say that Dr. Bouchard and others like him are public enemy number one. The Canadian doctor is cutting into potential proftits. Dr. Bouchard is facing the threat of subpoenas and lawsuits from American doctors should he venture across the border. As he puts it: "They are definitely out to get me." Of course, there is another side to this. Thanks to the American legal profession, a million dollars worth of medical malpractice insurance is costing many American doctors about $40,000 per year or more. That same insurance protection only costs Dr. Bouchard $13,000 Canadian. "It's one of the reasons I no longer practice medicine in the United Sates," he says.