What do Canadian doctors say to US insurers?
January 9, 2010 1:30 PM   Subscribe

History of drug use :: What will my Canadian doctor say if I need to get health insurance in the USA?

I've struggled off and on with substance abuse here in Canada for a number of years. Things are going really well right now and have been for a while. I'm clean, and feel very positive about things, but one thing is nagging at me :

Twice in the past 8 years I have disclosed my drug use to my family physician. I've never really given a second thought to it, as I can't be denied health coverage based on it, and I've wanted my doctor to have a complete picture of my health when he's treating me. I'm looking now to work in the USA on a TN1 visa, though, and I guess that as a part of my transition, I'll need to get some form of private health insurance.

Will I be required to sign something disclosing my complete file from my family doctor? What might this mean if he discloses the information on my drug use? Would I be denied some kind(s) of coverage? Would I have to pay more for something? Is there the possibility that this could affect my visa application or get back to my potential employer?

Any and all information is appreciated!

posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It has been a while since I filled out insurance forms, but to my recollection, they ask you thinks with some time period attached. For example: "Have you used illicit substances in the last five years" That is for private insurance. If they insure you after you say yes, then your rates would likely be higher.

Insurance through your employer doesn't have that kind of questionnaire involved at all, if I remember correctly.
posted by Edubya at 1:39 PM on January 9, 2010

You are technically not allowed to *enter* the United States without a special visa if you have *ever* used drugs, forget about being an addict.

If you are honest on the visa form, you may have serious problems with immigration. If you've ever seen that green visa waiver form that people from most European countries have to fill out before they can enter the U.S., one of the questions is are you a drug abuser. Any "yes" answer is grounds for deportation.

A Canadian professor was recently turned away because the immigration guys googled him and found that he'd admitted LSD use in the 1960's in some magazine interview or something like that. Last I heard, he still wasn't allowed in, even though he has family here and was never an addict. That was under Bush and I'm not sure if they're better now-- but it's real.
posted by Maias at 1:48 PM on January 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

I can't speak about immigration, but in my experience, if you are offered insurance through a group plan offered by your U.S. employer, you will not have to fill out an application or have a pre-qualifying exam. Private insurance, on the other hand, is a whole other issue, and one of the reasons why health care reform is such a big issue for Americans. Thankfully, I haven't had to go through the private insurance application process, but I wouldn't lie on an application either, even if it meant being excluded from coverage for certain conditions. Good luck!
posted by katemcd at 4:29 PM on January 9, 2010

Maias - there is no form to fill out for TN1. At no point in the process are you ever asked questions about your health. I don't recall a health questionnaire for H-1B either. The only time you are screened for health is when you fill out your I-485 to adjust your status, even then the questioning is thin. Odds are great that you can do drugs and go to the US, assuming you are not a famous druggie that has made a public case of your drug use.

Second katemcd, if you are offered group health insurance through your employer, you will not fill out a form. You are not required to disclose any medical records. The only issue you may have is applying for life insurance.

When you visit a physician, they will ask you about drug use (since that's a standard question on the intake form). Keep in mind that records are starting to be kept electronically now. It's supposed to be private. However if you go in for drug treatment and have it billed to your insurance, then you've definitely got a paper trail.
posted by crazycanuck at 9:02 PM on January 9, 2010

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