Strep throat in the wrong country
December 20, 2014 10:03 PM   Subscribe

I am almost positive I have strep throat. I'm in the US for the holidays but I live in Canada and all my health insurance is based there. What are the easiest, cheapest options now?

There is a slight chance this is just the worst sore throat I've ever had, but it's been hurting for four days now and it feels very similar to the last time I had strep (slightly less painful, or I'd already have asked this.) No cough, not really a runny/stuffy nose, just throat pain. All I want is a prescription for antibiotics.

I think that my Canadian healthcare will refund me whatever it costs? (I have travel coverage, I believe). Is this true? Will they cover all of it?

How much will it cost me upfront? Is it cheaper to go to a regular doctor or an urgent care clinic?
posted by raeka to Health & Fitness (8 answers total)
Something like a CVS minute clinic - several drug stores have them - with a nurse practitioner who can prescribe for minor illnesses like strep. Around me this costs about $75 and they fill your prescription right there at the drugstore. This is usually the cheapest and quickest option for paying completely out of pocket.

You may be able to call either your doctor back in Canada or your US host's doctor and wheedle a prescription out of them without a visit when you explain the circumstances ... my GP would definitely try to help my international guest over the phone if she ethically could, just as a favor to me and because she's nice.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:13 PM on December 20, 2014 [5 favorites]

I have no idea what the cost of getting looked at for strep throat would be in the States, but here's OHIP on repayment. Obviously it will vary if you're not from Ontario.

If you're pretty confident it's strep, would go to the cheapest clinic possible. Apparently there are physician's assistants and nurse practitioners at Walmart.
posted by cotton dress sock at 10:13 PM on December 20, 2014

I think that my Canadian healthcare will refund me whatever it costs? (I have travel coverage, I believe). Is this true? Will they cover all of it?

Sorry, but probably not. Ontario, for example, only covers acute, immediate, emergency care. Like, if you're not dying, they're not paying. I imagine other provinces are similar, that's why it's recommended to get travellers insurance of some kind (I know, I never do either).
posted by rodlymight at 10:15 PM on December 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

WalMart is usually the cheapest walk-in clinic. Walgreens and CVS often have walk-ins, as well, though my experience is that they're consistently about $15 more than the WalMart equivalent.

Just head in and pay out of pocket-- including medication, it'll almost certainly be under $100.

If you go to an urgent care, it'll be more expensive and a longer wait time. I'd only go to one if you can't find a walk-in clinic that's accessible.
posted by MeghanC at 10:24 PM on December 20, 2014

Thank you all so much! I found a walk-in clinic about twenty minutes away and I'm going tomorrow. This seems much simpler and less expensive than I'd feared.
posted by raeka at 10:32 PM on December 20, 2014 [3 favorites]

I'm a fellow Canuck who sometimes travels to the US and I always purchase Blue Cross for exactly the scenario you describe. It's not that expensive.
posted by Klaxon Aoooogah at 5:55 AM on December 21, 2014

I'm also Canadian. Major medical benefits plans with your employer may include travel insurance and you may be able to be reimbursed in that case. If you don't have that coverage, then temporary coverage is inexpensive and you should have it in the future. I usually get CAA. You don't have to be a member.
posted by TORunner at 6:05 AM on December 21, 2014

If you do have strep and get an RX for antibiotics, many grocery stores in the US will fill the antibiotic RX for very cheap or even free. WalMart, for example, has a list of medications (including antibiotics) that you can fill for only $4.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 4:33 PM on December 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

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