Canadian Family Drove for Two Days with Dad’s Corpse to Avoid American Healthcare

Police discovered the body early on Sunday morning at a Quebec border crossing, and the family reportedly said they kept their dad in the vehicle to avoid the American healthcare system.

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02 April 2019, 7:45am

A van stops outside a Canadian border crossing. Photo via J.P. Moczulski/Canadian Press. 

This article originally appeared on VICE CA.

Police say they’re investigating after a family attempted to cross into Canada with the corpse of a parent in the back of a van.

Sûreté du Québec told the Canadian Press, the van’s passengers were a man in his 60s and his two parents, one alive and one deceased. Police say that the call was initially for an unconscious person in the back of the van but when paramedics attended the scene they found that the man had been dead for at least two days. Police say they stopped the van at around 2:30 AM on Sunday at Quebec’s Hemmingford crossing and are investigating.

The man and his two elderly parents were reportedly driving back to Canada after a trip to Florida. La Presse reports that during the long drive home the father suffered a heart attack and died en route to Canada.

The mother and son reportedly didn’t want to use the American healthcare system and, further to that, once he was dead, didn’t want to deal with repatriating the body from America to Canada (something that can also be pricey). So, with the cost of medical treatment and flying his body back to Canada in their mind, the two continued their drive north with a dead father in the back of the van.

Making the choice to drive for miles upon miles with the slowly decomposing body of a loved one is incredibly morbid stuff, but one can see the logic in it. For many Canadians a surprise medical expense in the States can break them financially.

It’s a well-known fear for Canucks traveling to the US—you get hurt, don’t have adequate travel insurance, are forced into the American healthcare system and all of a sudden you’re bankrupt because of a fall. For example, if you break your leg down south it could cost you upwards of $20,000. The horror stories are abundant throughout Canadian media: one man who was pretty banged up in a car accident ended up owing US health care providers $325,000.

A BMO study from 2013 found that 41 percent of Canadians don’t get travelers insurance when they do leave the country. However, travellers insurance may not always cover you.

In a famous case from 2014, a Saskatchewan mother had an early, emergency delivery of her daughter while on vacation in Hawaii. The mother had travellers insurance but they, being an insurance company and all, decided not to pay her claim because of a “pre-existing condition” that had nothing to do with the birth. The woman was charged $950,000 in medical bills and their daughter became known as the “Million Dollar Baby.”

This isn’t to say that the Canadian health care system is perfect—it could still be improved significantly, obviously—but, at the very least, it’s telling what country the two wanted to be in to deal with the death of a loved one.

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