Impact of birth tourism on health caresystems in Calgary, Alberta

This is exactly the kind of detail that is needed for regions and hospitals that have high numbers of non-resident births.

Some highlights of the study from my perspective:

  • 102/227 patients were identified as birth tourist (45 percent)
  • 83% of patients stated they came to Canada with a Visitor Visa
  • Country of origin: Nigeria (25%), Middle East (18%) China (11%), and India (8%) and Mexico (6%), none from Western Europe or Australia
  • 77% stated that their primary reason to deliver their baby in Canada was for the the baby to be eligible for Canadian citizenship, while only 8% stated their reason to deliver in Canada was to access better health care
  • Almost a third of women had a known preexisting medical condition
  • 29 mothers and 17 newborns had unpaid invoices, $290,000 and $404,000 respectively at the time the report was written.

More kind of this detailed analysis by medical professionals and researchers is needed rather than the legal and policy analyses that diminish the issue (disclosure the researchers and I have been in contact over the past few years).

Hospitals where studies would be useful would be for the top ten hospitals with the largest percentage of non-resident births:

Funding should be provided for these kind of empirical studies rather than for more ideological studies such as the one underway by Megan Gaucher, Jamie Lieu and Amanda Cheong (Insight Grant 2021 Birth Tourism and Citizenship):

Background:  Birth  tourism  refers  to  non-resident  women  giving  birth  in  a  country  outside  of  their  own  in  order  to obtain  citizenship  and/or  healthcare  for  their  newborns. We  undertook  a  study  to  determine  the  extent  of  birth  tourism  in  Calgary,  the  characteristics  and  rationale  of  this  population,  and  the  fnancial  impact  on  the  healthcare  system.

Methods:  A  retrospective  analysis  of  102  women  identifed  through  a  Central Triage  system  as  birth  tourists  who delivered  in  Calgary  between  July  2019  and  November  2020  was  performed.  Primary  outcome  measures  were  mode of  delivery,  length  of  hospital  stay,  complications  or  readmissions  within  6  weeks  for  mother  or  baby,  and  NICU  stay for  baby.

Results:  Birth Tourists  were  most  commonly  from  Nigeria  (24.5%).  77%  of  Birth Tourists  stated  that  their  primary  reason  to  deliver  their  baby  in  Canada  was  for  newborn  Canadian  citizenship. The  average  time  from  arrival  in  Calgary  to the  EDD  was  87  days.  Nine  babies  required  stay  in  the  neonatal  intensive  care  unit  (NICU)  and  3  required  admission  to a  non  NICU  hospital  ward  in  frst  6  weeks  of  life,  including  2  sets  of  twins. The  overall  amount  owed  to  Alberta  Health Services  for  hospital  fees  for  this  time  period  is  approximately  $694  000.00.

Conclusion:  Birth Tourists  remain  a  complex  and  poorly  studied  group. The  process  of  Central Triage  did  help  suport  providers  in  standardizing  process  and  documentation  while  ensuring  that  communication  was  consistent. These  fndings  provide  preliminary  data  to  guide  targeted  public  health  and  policy  interventions  for  this  population.

Source: Impact of birth tourism on health care systems in Calgary, Alberta