Privatization of health | Rob Peter to pay Paul

I don’t know if you’re worried, but I am greatly worried when I see the current trend that is gaining momentum in our health care system: to have access to necessary care, both in time and plan of the resources required, you have to put your hand in your pocket and pay a lot of money.

As a family doctor who has practiced for 20 years and another 20 years as a manager in the network, I am revolted when I see more and more services becoming chargeable, with the additional shift of our resources to the private sector.

For example, a new service is offered in a town in the Eastern Townships: doctors have set up a home visit service. The cost is $290 for a 20 minute visit. If the visit exceeds 20 minutes, additional costs are added. For a doctor who has done house calls before, it’s clear that this 20-minute offer is a trap. The doctor does not know the person, their medical history and the medications they are taking. He will therefore have to do a questionnaire, an examination and, as the case may be, prescribe a treatment plan, and all this in 20 minutes. Similar paid services are offered in the Montreal and Quebec regions.

This private medicine service also offers virtual consultations for drug renewal, blood tests, driver’s license renewal.

These service offerings are debatable from the point of view of medical practice when faced with a patient whom one does not know.

There are other examples of private services, such as the virtual offer of consultations for sleep disorders, justified by the fact that the wait for a consultation for this problem is two years. So, in virtual mode, you have access to a psychologist or psychotherapist who offers you cognitive-behavioral therapy. The costs, depending on the number of sessions, vary between $1200 and $1800. In addition to the costs that the citizen must pay, it is deplorable to note, once again, that full recruitment and easy attraction of resources as important as psychologists and psychotherapists while we recognize the pitiful state mental health services.

Fish on both sides of the boat

What is most worrying about this wave of privatization is the adoption on the sly by the government of the Coalition avenir Québec of this decree that Anne Plourde, of IRIS, describes in her text1 from January 18 in The Press : “authorize doctors in the public system to sell their services to private virtual care companies”. It’s scandalous ! Family physicians will therefore no longer have to choose between the public plan or the private plan without RAMQ. By now allowing general practitioners and medical specialists to fish on both sides of the boat, on which side do you think they will offer their availability, as will be the case for other health professionals?

It seems pretty obvious that this trend we are witnessing is bound to continue to develop.

Because, as Anne Plourde points out in this same article of January 18, “companies in the sector have experienced dazzling growth […]some of them having quintupled their turnover since 2020”.

The reality is that with such signed agreements, you have, among other things, the effect of undressing Pierre to dress Paul. Paul easily recruits personnel from the health network and it pays off very well. Pierre, on the other hand, has an obligation to offer services in emergencies, in hospital services and care for the elderly, 24 hours a day. Consequently and unfortunately, due to a lack of personnel in our public network, situations like this experienced at Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital will be more and more widespread and will continue to jeopardize the universality of care. Allow me to be revolted.

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