Cystic Fibrosis in Canada

Cystic fibrosis is a genetic condition associated with the exocrine system that affects the intestines, kidneys, liver, pancreas, and lungs. People of Northern European ancestry are at the highest risk of developing cystic fibrosis. Persons of Asian, black, and Hispanic descent are less likely to have a genetic mutation than caucasian and Native Americans. In Canada, 1 in 3,600 babies is born with this condition, and there is no cure.

Common symptoms of cystic fibrosis include breathlessness, wheezing, constipation and intestinal problems, and nausea. The most typical complication is loss of respiratory function associated with ongoing infection. Lung failure is the major cause of death. Other complications include frequent sinus infections, diabetes, vitamin and nutrient deficiency, kidney problems, joint pain, and liver disease.

It is estimated that in Canada, 1 in 25 people has a genetic mutation that is associated with cystic fibrosis. When two parents with a genetic mutation have a child, the chance of being born with CF is 25 percent. The main cause is a defective copy of a gene, which makes it an inherited condition.

There are newborn screening programs in many Canadian provinces. Quebec is the last to implement screening in 2018. The test involves a blood sample which is taken shortly after the baby is born. The goal is to check whether the child carries a defective CFTR gene. Screening is used as a diagnostic tool in the United States, New Zealand, Australia, and several European countries. Other diagnostic tools include pulmonary function tests, CT scan, chest X-ray, the Sputum Test, and the Sweat Chloride Test. Pulmonary function tests are used to determine lung capacity in patients with respiratory problems and to monitor disease progression in patients with chronic conditions. The CT scan is another diagnostic tool to help detect damage of the internal organs. Chest X-ray helps detect respiratory blockages in patients with CF. The Sputum Test is performed by taking a phlegm or sputum sample to detect lung swelling. The Sweat Chloride Test is another useful tool to diagnose cystic fibrosis by measuring salt in the sweat. Prenatal screening and genetic tests are also used to diagnose cystic fibrosis.

The median life expectancy of patients is about 51 years in Canada compared to about 41 years in the U.S. The main reason is that more patients in Canada receive lung transplants compared to the United States. Patients in Canada undergo screening 3 – 4 times a year in the ideal case and visit different healthcare practitioners, including a social worker, physiotherapist, dietitian, and physician.

Certain medications and treatments help alleviate symptoms and problems, including antibiotics to treat ongoing infections. In some cases, surgery is required due to mucus buildup and subsequent lung obstruction. While there is no cure, treatment includes balanced nutrition, removal of mucus buildup, prevention and treatment of recurrent respiratory infections, and prevention and treatment of intestinal blockages. There are certain medications that help prevent complications, including pancreatic enzymes that improve the absorption of nutrients and bronchodilators to control the buildup of mucus. Mucus-thinning medications are also used to help prevent lung obstruction. Many patients also take anti-inflammatory medications to help prevent lung complications.

Founded back in 1960, this is a nation-wide charitable foundation that works to raise funds for quality care and research. One of the main goals of the foundation is advocacy to improve access to medications and to ensure that newborn screening becomes a standard practice. The foundation is also the charity of choice of different events organized across Canada.

Getting Private Health Insurance

There are plenty of options to get private health insurance in Canada to benefit from additional coverage. Whether a resident, visitor, or newcomer, private insurance covers medical expenses and preventive care and saves a lot of money.

Insurance providers in Canada feature plans that are tailored to the needs of students, self-employed individuals, professionals, contract workers, part-time and full-time employees, and retirees. There are also plans for pre-existing and chronic conditions. Some providers offer a discount to customers who have normal blood sugar levels and cholesterol, blood pressure within normal limits, normal body mass index, and are non-smokers.

Insurance providers offer different plans, including standard, basic, and comprehensive. In general, comprehensive plans cover hospital stays, ambulance, prescription medications, and supplemental care. Enhanced plans also cover medical services, visits to healthcare practitioners and therapists, and dental and vision care. Dental care includes services such as oral surgery, preventive treatments and diagnostic services, prosthodontics services, and more. Vision care covers services and supplies such as eye surgery, frames, and lenses. When it comes to visits to therapists, comprehensive plans usually offer coverage for registered dietitians, osteopaths, podiatrists, counselors, and speech pathologists. Many plans also cover visits to acupuncturists, audiologists, psychologists, physiotherapists, massage therapists, and other professionals.

Core and comprehensive plans also offer coverage for diagnostic tests, surgical materials and appliances, surgical fees, and intensive care. Many plans also feature benefits such as travel costs, emergency care, and medical evacuation in case that treatment and services are not offered locally. Long term and palliative care are also covered. There are optional repatriation plans that include benefits such as travel expenses for patients and insured family members, hotel accommodation, ongoing treatment, and more.

Many insurance providers offer coverage for wellbeing checks such as mammograms, pap smears, cancer screening, cardiovascular checks, and blood tests. Vaccinations are usually offered as well.

Insurance companies are usually interested in whether customers have pre-existing conditions such as diabetes, skin diseases, nervous or mental disorders, chronic fatigue, and attention deficit hyperactive disorder. The list of conditions also includes high or elevated cholesterol, blood disorders, stroke, and high blood pressure. Insurance providers are also interested in whether customers have been treated or diagnosed with medical conditions such as multiple sclerosis, seizures, chronic headache, lung and respiratory disorders.

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Private Insurance Providers in Canada

There are many established providers in Canada such as Pacific Blue Cross, Sun Life Financial, Safe Visit, Sure Health, and others. Sure Health, for example, offers plans that are ideal for seasonal workers, freelancers, small business owners, employees, and self-employed persons. There are plans for persons who have lost their group health coverage due to job loss or retirement. Pacific Blue Cross features coverage for students, employees, self-employed, and retirees. There are plans for families, couples, and individual customers. Travel and dental benefits are offered as supplementary coverage. Sun Life Financial features 3 health plans to choose from – enhanced, basic, and standard. The basic plan is ideal for persons who wish to have coverage for basic dental and health needs, including prescription medications, restorative and preventive dental care, home and in-home nursing care, and ambulance. The basic plan also covers medical equipment and supplies such as wigs, braces, casts, blood glucose monitors, prosthetic appliances.


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