Earlier this month, long-time critic of socialized medicine Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) created quite a stir when news outlets reported that he was planning on undergoing hernia surgery in Canada.
Canada’s medical system is publicly funded and universally provided, which is very anti-Paul — he once compared the “right to healthcare” to “slavery” in a 2011 senate hearing.
“With regard to the idea of whether or not you have a right to health care, you have to realize what that implies,” he said at that hearing. “It is not an abstraction. I am a physician, that means you have a right to come to my house and conscript me. It means you believe in slavery.”
Contrast Canada’s system to that of the United States, where Americans are covered by a mix of private and government insurance programs, with 13.7 percent having no coverage at all as of the fourth quarter of 2018.
Why Paul is going to Canada
The story, though, turned out to be much less sensational than the initial hype — Paul will be visiting a private hospital and paying out-of-pocket.
Shouldice Hernia Hospital in Thornhill, Ontario, isn’t entirely private. It also treats Ontario residents who are covered under the Ontario Health Insurance Plan.
Paul struck back at critics saying that his was a free market decision.
“I’m actually choosing capitalistic medicine because they only take cash from foreigners,” he told the Louisville Courier Journal.
Healthline reached out to Paul’s office for further comment, but has not received an immediate reply.
Paul added in the interview that he chose Shouldice because it offers the surgery that he needed at the right price. The hospital specializes in hernia repair using natural tissue rather than artificial mesh.
The Louisville Courier Journal reports that the procedure in Canada will cost an estimated $5,000 to $8,000.
According to Healthcare Bluebook, a hernia repair in the United States costs between $3,421 and $12,365, or up to $19,179 for a laparoscopic repair.
Healthcare costs in the U.S. are also notoriously difficult to determine prior to a procedure, and plenty of patients have received bills that can be thousands or tens of thousands of dollars over what they expected to pay.
Add to this the stronger U.S. dollar, and Paul could be saving money over an out-of-pocket procedure in his home state of Kentucky.
Another perk of going to Canada is that Shouldice offers a resort-like setting for recovery, with fresh meals, an exercise program, on-site massage, and relaxing views.