Will Punishing the Provinces for Utilizing Private Pay be Beneficial?
In 2015, Saskatchewan started a MRI and CT Scan program which allowed for private facilities to offer them at an out of pocket cost in an effort to reduce their time waiting for one through the system. Last week the federal government decided to not only put a stop to that but also take money back from the provinces who have allowed the private clinics to provide the pay out of pocket diagnostics. They claim ‘pay for scans hasn’t worked in other provinces to reduce wait lists, so why would it here?’ It was deemed a failed experiment.
Health Minister Paul Merriman of SK argued that wait times haven’t gone down because there are more people living in the province than there were in 2015. The province intends to continue providing private services despite the fact they will be penalized each time someone uses it by taking money away from the province for every dollar earned through the private sector. As of now that amount is $740,000.
What this new rule essentially will do is close down the private clinics within a province. My question is how do they know that it hasn’t worked to reduce wait times? Who is tracking this? It seems logical that the number of people on the list will decrease as each person who pays out of pocket is 1 less person on the list. These private clinics are profitable enough to stay open so one could assume it helps enough Canadians and does reduce the wait times through the system. Has anyone looked at things like an increase in population vs how many machines and techs are available in the public system? Have there been more machines and techs added to serve the increase in population and/or need for a CT Scan or MRI? Where is the research on that? Wouldn’t the wait lists be longer if those people had no option for paying out of pocket? Something is not adding up.
The bottom line is if there are no private facilities, and people are waiting longer, two things will happen: 1. People will find a way to get it done sooner (i.e. go to a different province or the US) or 2. Waiting may impact the severity of their condition, thus calling for more care down the road. The expense of an MRI vs expense of a more complex surgery that the public system will now have to bear will increase.