TORONTO (March 17, 2016) -- Canadian Doctors for Medicare is alarmed by Premier Brad Wall’s announcement today that if re-elected, his government exploring a pay-per-use CT scan service where patients can pay for priority treatment and move ahead of the queue.
Widely criticized by experts across Canada for a similar action with MRI services, Wall seems committed to ignoring the evidence and the Canada Health Act without consideration of the negative consequences of his actions. This style of pay-for-care service has been shown time and again to increase wait times for the majority of patients.
While Premier Wall has cited Alberta as an example, the Government of Alberta has moved away from the policy at great cost. Alberta was forced to repay patients for medically-necessary imaging services that were in contravention of the Canada Health Act, and moved virtually all MRI and CT services back into the public system. Alberta has since built public capacity and cracked down on the practice of extra-billing. The government of Saskatchewan should look to other provinces and learn from their experience in exploring this decision.
“There are better solutions to wait times, and they involve strengthening Medicare, not undermining it,” said Dr. Ryan Meili, Executive Vice-Chair of Canadian Doctors for Medicare.
“The evidence is quite clear, when parallel for-profit health services are introduced, the result is greater wait times and growing inequities within the public system, “Meili continued. “This type of queue-jumping means that patients in greatest need wait longer while those who can afford it pay to receive priority treatment.”
Wall claims this would shorten public wait times, but evidence shows that parallel private health care systems fragment service, over-treat affluent patients, and drain public health resources, making care less efficient and increasing wait times across the board.
“The promise offered by these systems is always the same. But the reality is more wait times for patients, more cost, and little or no benefit for most Canadians,” said Meili
Nationwide research on private diagnostics has shown that, without exception, private MRI and CT clinics are located only in the largest cities in each province. People in smaller communities, rural areas and even medium-sized towns never get access to the “benefits” of private care. These parallel systems drain staff and resources from public care, and drain the confidence of Canadians that health care will be there when they need it. Premier Wall should show leadership in improving access and appropriate use of imaging within the public system, that’s the kind of innovation Canadians need and want.
Canadian Doctors for Medicare provides a voice for Canadian doctors who want to strengthen and improve Canada's universal publicly-funded health care system. We advocate for innovations in treatment and prevention services that are evidence-based and improve access, quality, equity and sustainability.
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For more information, please contact:
Dr. Ryan Meili