For-profit MRIs and CTs available at hospitals -

For-profit MRIs and CTs available at hospitals

“Third parties” like businesses may buy scans for patients


Many Canadian hospitals are allowing Canadians to buy MRI and CT scans, including Mount Sinai and St. Michael’s in Toronto. They say they are not violating any laws, because an exemption exists that allows third-parties outside the public system to buy health care services. The RCMP, the military, prison inmates, and the WSIB, for instance, have long purchased care outside of the provincial funded health systems. Now, private insurers like Acure Health of Alberta are offering the service to members who buy health insurance. At one hospital in Ontario, any corporation with business cheques is being allowed to buy services for anyone. At Trillium Health Centre in Mississauga, Ont., a representative told the National Post that an MRI or CT scan could be had up to three days faster so long as it’s paid for by a corporation, but only if “it looks like it’s a legitimate sort of expense for the company.” A spokesman for the Ontario Health Ministry confirmed that hospitals are funded to provide scans for a certain number of hours and they’re allowed to sell access to their machines outside those hours. The hospitals can then spend that money on patients. Michael McBane of the Canadian Healthcare Coalition says he’s very concerned that those who pay can pay are able get faster service. “It’s the thin edge of the wedge,” he said. “If they don’t get beaten back, they will grow like a cancer.”

National Post

Filed under:

For-profit MRIs and CTs available at hospitals

  1. What's new about this? Everyone in Ottawa knows that if you want a fast MRI you can pay $1000 at a private clinic just across the river in Gatineau QC and get an MRI in 3 days instead of waiting 6-12 months for the public system.

  2. Health care should be an insurance program and then the players should complete for the customer. It's cool that in Canada Health Care is cheap, but if you have some sort of illness you may kiss your@ss goodbye waiting for treatment.

  3. Canada needs more privatization of medical services, not less. Faster, better service would help everyone instead of the four-tier system we have now where the powerful get premium service, health care workers and their families are next up with excellent service, goverment employees come in third, and last but not least are the suckers that pay for it all – the general public. While this system works well for the well connected and is rationed for everyone else, it is still too expensive to survive and will bankrupt provincial governments across the nation in a few years.

    • I wouldn't say "privatization", as that would mean privatizing healthcare facilities that are now public. But certainly removing legal restrictions on the provision of private healthcare would be a good thing. If someone wants to build a new healthcare facility with private investment and charge people for their services, they should absolutely be allowed to do so.

  4. It's time to have innovation in health care. Canada's health care has always been a private enterprise paid by the public purse, so there is nothing new with this. Time to take away our blindfolds and really think on ways how to make health care work system works efficiently.

    • I get the impression that many people believe that doctors offices are public practices. In fact, they are private businesses. The public is billed for their services, but they are private, for profit businesses just as surely as the Subway franchise next door. Somehow this hasn't destroyed medicare. Far from it. Yet any talk of allowing further provision of private services, or allowing doctors to bill someone other than the government, is met with screams of outrage from the usual suspects.

      • I believe that there should be healthy competition for our hospitals also, as they are not really trustworthy in safeguarding the money given to them, as evidenced by Ontario hospitals unexplained and unreasonable expenses and charges. I believe Ontario hospitals are not alone in charging ridiculous expenses. If there is mandatory audit of hospitals, we might find this abuse of resources is nationwide. Competition should be beneficial for tax payer's purse string and to the hospitals which would be forced to do better to compete. Health care budget is already unsustainable at this point, there will come a time in not so distant future that people will be forced to face reality as treatments, medications, and diagnostic exams are getting quite expensive, when health care budget eats most of our tax dollars and nothing will be left for other important things.

      • exactly! similarly they could have more private hospitals ..probably the people against it the most are the big unions… for me, i would think all that maters is that insurance pays for it, it doesn't matter who delivers it ..the biggest medical revolutions underway will be electronic records, more self research via the internet, and also medical teams instead just doctor focused ((this looks to me like lower paid people delivering the basic services freeing up the doctors to do more advanced work)

        • There is much to be gained in electronic record keeping, for sure. But the privacy monkeys have really been on a roll lately. Data sharing, even between government departments, is getting damn near impossible.

          I used to be a bureaucrat. You would not believe the hurdles we needed to clear to share our data with other government departments. Often the data sharing was vital for the departments to even carry out their primary functions. Yet the hurdles could NOT be removed. They needed to be "finessed". Essentially, both the receiver and the provider of the data had to find creative ways to get around draconian data sharing restrictions just so the government could function. Can't say I miss that crap at all.

          Sometimes I think the whole privacy scare of late has been created by bureaucrats as a means of job security. You wouldn't believe the amount of paperwork and extra work it creates within government. As though government needed any help with that. However, it's just as likely that privacy fears are being fanned by private sector interests – particularly tech companies who specialize in "data security". Regardless of where it's coming from, if we're not careful, we'll miss out on a big part of the ongoing tech revolution because of our misplaced fears over privacy.

  5. Mcbane should have thought instead of which is considered criminal, treating (and option to charge) patient in timely manner and stopping illness from deteriorating further or let a patient suffer and wait a long time to get a much needed treatment? He seems concerned more about envy and pettiness than real need. His kind of mentality should not be allowed to sit in any health care council. They are lucky so far that no one sued for suffering while having a to wait a long time for much needed treatment.

    • A few years back, the Supreme Court almost overturned the Canada Health Act. And it was specifically over the issue of whether the government had the right to deny the delivery of private, for profit healthcare. It was a 4-4 split decision, with the final and deciding vote abstaining. Obviously that final judge would have voted in favour of overturning it, thus the abstention. Likely, the Court didn't feel comfortable making a ruling that would create the ultimate $hit storm in Canada. Still, that guy who took it to the Supreme Court won't be the last. There will be other cases. The Supreme Court won't be able to dodge the issue a second time without seriously damaging their credibility.

      • If only there are more of those people with deep pocket to hire really good lawyers. I believe the court might be the fastest venue to have much needed change in our health care. Politicians will only touch this issue when the system is finally collapsing, as it is such a potential career killer for politicians to tackle.

  6. Seven years ago when I was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer I questioned my specialist whether an MRI would be usefull. I was willing to pay $1K for a private MRI, but he told me it was too late. Although I have additional private health insurance, doubt they would have paid for an MRI. Would an MRI be tax deductible? A year or so ago, I had a PET scan, ordered by my Onc and had one within a week or 2 of her ordering it.

    My concern about private/public health care is that there will be fewer Drs in the public system. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe some of these Drs. work in both systems and some are reimbursed by prov. govt's for their services in the private system.

    I know we need a national health care debate in Canada, but I'd like it to also ensure that those that can't afford health insurance are also treated within an adequate timeframe. One aspect that I believe could save health care costs is the cost of drugs. I wish we had national purchasing system.

    Just wish to add that I have received excellent & speedy care. I've gone through 2 rounds of chemo over the years and my Onc. and nurses/etc. involved have been wonderful.

    • I'm glad you are doing well. I have a family member who has a serious back injury. Her back surgeon told her it is now a 16 month wait to get an MRI in Vancouver. Ridiculous. I don't like private clinics that much. But sometimes, for those who can afford it, it is an important alternative. But like you said, I believe it is necessary to make sure those who cannot afford it get timely care. It is disgusting how much money is wasted by politicians on their 5 star hotel stays with their expensive meals. And how they mispent their money. Does BC Place really need a $563 million dollar roof? So much money was taken out of health care for that. I think a $10 million dollar roof will do for one building. Just my rant for the day.

  7. I would never subscribe to any form of private health provision. They have a way too big a wedge into our public health system already.
    Any further encroachment will be the death knell of our system.
    I have no respect for anyone who seeks to make a profit off the sickness of others.