By Staff Writer Eric Sousa. Have you ever heard the expression, “Healthcare costs are so high you might as well smuggle your deceased dad’s 80 year-old body to Canada,” before? No? Well, based on events that happened March 31st, that might just become the next hit phrase.
At around 2:30 in the morning on Sunday, a van was stopped at the border between Vermont and Quebec. Normally for traffic stops such as this, the worst thing the border patrol finds is drugs, fireworks, or various illegal paraphernalia. Much to their surprise, they were greeted with a new one: a dead body.
However, he wasn’t truly able to be pronounced dead due to the fact that none of the border patrol had their medical doctorate. Instead, the individual needed to be brought to Ormstown Memorial Hospital before being officially declared dead. This was two days after the event that originally killed the individual. It is suspected to have been a heart attack.
The family was vacationing in Florida when the tragedy struck them. The family, in an attempt to avoid exorbitantly high health care costs, decided that driving through the United States into Canada would be more efficient than paying America’s high fees.
The estimated cost of something as simple as a sprained ankle is upwards of $2,000 on a Canadian travel visa. For more serious injuries, such as death, these costs skyrocket.
Now, grief makes us all do strange things. I can understand how, in the moment, the last thing you want to deal with is the financial red-tape. Not to mention the headache that would come from shipping a body back to Canada, the logistics of your own travel, etc.
Personally, I don’t know the right solution to that situation. The family, in their moment of compromised thought, decided the best case scenario was to re-enact something that is a cross between Weekend at Bernie’s and the National Lampoon franchise.
The border patrol was also extremely surprised at their finding; according to Jean-Pierre Fortin, the president of Canada’s Customs and Immigration Union, finding dead bodies in cars at the border is, “very rare.” This begs the question; how many bodies allot “very rare” as a status?
As unique and zany as this whole situation is, the reality behind it could not be direr. The reality is a family that should have been focused on their grief and loss of their father instead felt the need to circumvent a cost that will now haunt them forever. Of course, the first way for people to hear this story is satirically. I mean, considering all the drab and morbid news pouring in every day, this story threatens to even have an element of comedy to it. It’s easy to separate yourself from the situation and imagine what it must have been like for that border patrol.
However, it’s frightening that other civilized countries find our health policies so abhorrent that they would risk persecution to avoid paying that bill.
While other countries merely vacation and have relatives die on our soil, our own citizens have no other option but to accept the shifty deal being offered to them. This is a lesson in the extremity of our health care system.
There is an adage concerning the cost of surgeries in the United States. It is joked that it is cheaper to vacation in Mexico for a week and pay for a surgery there than the cost of your local hospital for the same exact surgery.
After this, it seems possible that the adage might not be as outlandish as previously thought.
The family has declined comment at this time.