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Can Fam Physician. 2013 Jun;59(6):e269-75.

Waiting for care: effects of Ontario's 3-month waiting period for OHIP on landed immigrants.

Author information

1
St Michael’s Hospital, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. ritikagoelto@gmail.com

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To describe the experiences of a group of new immigrants and caregivers of new immigrants who were subject to the 3-month waiting period for the Ontario Health Insurance Plan and needed to access health care services during that time.

DESIGN:

Qualitative study using a phenomenologic framework.

SETTING:

Participants were recruited through the Scarborough Community Volunteer Clinic in Toronto, Ont. Interviews were conducted in person at the clinic or by telephone.

PARTICIPANTS:

Seven participants were interviewed who themselves needed to access health care during the 3-month waiting period for the Ontario Health Insurance Plan or who were caring for someone who did.

METHODS:

Seven semistructured, in-depth interviews were conducted using an interview guide; these were recorded and transcribed verbatim. Data were analyzed for themes to arrive at the essence of the participants' experiences.

MAIN FINDINGS:

Participants believed that there was a lack of clear information and a lack of help from officials. Other common themes included poor social situations, financial loss or threat of financial loss related to health care, a choice to delay seeking care owing to cost, difficulty accessing alternative care, and appreciation for those who advocated on their behalf. Other themes that arose included emotional hardship, poor health outcomes or threat of poor health outcomes resulting from not seeking care, the importance and unpredictability of health, as well as negative impressions of Canada as a country as a result of the negative experience of seeking care.

CONCLUSION:

New immigrants to Ontario who need to access health care services during the 3-month waiting period for provincial health insurance and the caregivers of such newcomers can have potentially very negative experiences. They might be unable to access care without financial barriers and might, therefore, choose to delay seeking health care until the end of the waiting period; this can lead to emotional hardship for themselves and their caregivers as well as to potentially poor health outcomes. This potential for an overwhelmingly negative experience for some new immigrants to Ontario might lend support to the argument that this policy be eliminated.

PMID:
23766065
PMCID:
PMC3681469
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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