Debate on paying for medically necessary care in Canada


Private clinics embroiled in a legal battle against the British Columbia government have scored a victory after a judge ordered an injunction against provisions in the law banning private pay medically necessary health services.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Janet Winteringham says in a written ruling that the government cannot enforce the provisions until their constitutionality is determined at trial. The plaintiffs have established that there are serious questions to be tried, including that some patients will suffer serious physical or psychological harm while waiting for public health services.

From October 2018, doctors who charge patients for medically necessary procedures would have faced initial fines of CAD$10,000 (US$7,600) as the province enforced the law that has not been fully enacted in 15 years. Winteringham's ruling means the provisions cannot be enforced until June 2019 or pending a further order of the court.

Dr. Brian Day of the Cambie Surgery Centre and other plaintiffs launched the legal challenge arguing the province doesn't provide timely medical services, yet residents are prohibited from accessing private health care. Another clinic and several patients launched the constitutional challenge to the provisions of the law nearly a decade ago and the trial continues.

The Fraser Institute new study, comparing finds that Canada spends more on health care than the majority of developed countries with universal coverage, but ranks near the bottom in terms of the number of doctors and hospital beds, and Canada suffers from the longest wait times.

The study compares 28 universal health-care systems in developed countries, spotlighting several key areas including cost, availability and use of resources, access to care and treatment, clinical performance and quality, and the health of Canadians.

Private medicine is a fact in Canada, but the legality is not. Long waiting lists force Canadians to go overseas for treatment.



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