Increase in Private Health Care has Some Worried

Increase in Private Health Care has Some Worried

The other day we mentioned the increase in private clinics in Quebec. Now, the exodus of doctors to fully private clinics has become a “bleeding” worries Réjean Hébert, the Minister of Health and Social Services.  The department with take measures ” soon” to deter physicians dropping the public network.

Quebec is experiencing a boom of private medicine. There are now some 200 clinics that are private, where the carte soleil is not accepted. The doctors who work there say they like not participating in the Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec (RAMQ) and patients must pay for treatment.

The growth of private medicine is “a problem” in Réjean Hébertès eyes. “It’s a fairness issue. We need to give citizens access to the public network and reserve the private network for those that are not covered by health insurance. We cannot create a parallel system.”

The amount of General Practitioners leaving the RAMQ to open private family medicine is a new and worrying phenomenon. In 2001, there were only 18 GPs that didn’t participate in the RAMQ, and now there are 186.

There are currently 76 non-participating specialists in the RAMQ. This is compared to 262 specialists working outside of the public system. This is a record when compared to the 60 that worked 10 years ago.

Shortage in the Public System

This exodus worsens the shortage of doctors in the public system according to Réjean Hébert. “We doubled admissions to medical schools. If the graduates decide to leave the public system to work private system, we have not moved forward,” he argued.

He considers it “important to prevent the bleeding of doctors from the public network.” It means among other things the review period for a doctor out of the RAMQ. Presently, a doctor has to fill out a simple form and after 30 days he can become a non-participant. If they choose to reintegrate themselves back into the public network, it is even faster. The doctor can return in eight days.

“There are some doctors who have their fill of the private network and then they leave to practice in the private network. Later they return to join the public network again. We want to solve this back and forth ping-pong motion,” said Hebert.

According to the Law on Health Insurance, the Minister may somehow conscript non-participating physicians in the public network by forbidding them to issue bills to patients for insured services. It can resort to this measure if it considers that the number of non-participating physicians is too large for general services provided, so that they can be returned in accordance with the uniform conditions.

“If it comes to it, we will not hesitate to introduce this measure. Although we are not there yet,” said Réjean Hébert, adding that the board is studying “all available options.”
……………………………………………………………… Staff Writer

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