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According to the Penticton Herald, Gina Littley feels better than she has felt in years. She flew to India for a needed operation for a degenerative spinal condition in her neck.

Initially she sought treatment through a neurosurgeon in Victoria. He told her the operation was too risky for the limited relief she would experience, advising her to take some physiotherapy and if the pain got too bad take some Tylenol.

The surgeon advised her to seek a second opinion. Five neurosurgeons in the Lower Mainland said they were too busy giving first opinions, while a sixth said he did not do necks or spines. Eventually Gina did get a favourable second opinion from a doctor in Bellingham, Washington; the Medical Services Plan would not consider his diagnosis however since he was not registered in B.C.

Gina decided to go ahead with the operation in India. The bill for the trip for two, including the operation, hospital stay, 10 days at a five-star beach resort and other sundry items and services was just over $20,000.

They spent two or three months checking on the doctor and talking to several of his patients before deciding to go ahead with the operation. Their experience was positive. The facilities were extremely clean and post and pre-operative conditions better than that experienced in Canadian hospitals.

Attempts to have medical insurance cover the $8000 bill for only the cost of the surgery were rejected by the BC government because the

procedure is available in BC or elsewhere in Canada.

The Littleys are part of a group-action lawsuit along with several others, whose claims for out-of-country medical procedures have been rejected.

Canada has an extreme shortage of doctors and long waiting lists for needed operations that affect quality of life for a rapidly ageing population. The baby boom generation has lived through a benign period of prosperity in Canada. The RSP funds this era has generated is sitting in institutions being taxed heavily if withdrawn.

The rapidly increasing senior ‘boomer’ population is straining the health care system.

Why should we not allow RSP money to be withdrawn tax-free when used for needed operations out of the country?

This would be a cost effective method of shortening waiting lists while improving quality of life.

Why not allow the use of RSP money tax-free

for needed out-of-country healthcare?