Private-pay clinics and double-billing cause hardship and lengthen wait-times

June 12, 2017
Media Release

Two stunning new reports have revealed that a significant number of doctors in Ontario have been engaged in an “illegal double-dipping practice” and regulators aren’t addressing the problem.

“This situation is causing great individual hardship and harming our public system,” says Leo Broderick of the Council of Canadians. “Private-pay clinics are a problem, not a solution, and a two-tiered health care system means longer wait times for just about everyone. Even though these practices are in violation of the Canada Health Act, the federal and provincial governments do not strictly enforce the rules and the costs charged at private-pay clinics are exorbitant.”

A new investigative report from the Globe and Mail reveals that 63 per cent of the 699 doctors who work at 71 private-pay clinics also work in the public system. The investigation found that it’s routine for these doctors to direct patients to private-pay clinics where they have a stake in the profits. It's also routine for these doctors to bill both their patient and the government for different aspects of the same treatment.

A new report from the Ontario Health Coalition has found that, “In the majority of provinces, patients are now faced with an array of charges amounting to hundreds or even thousands of dollars when they go to private clinics for diagnosis or treatment.”

“Private-pay clinics are siphoning medical professionals from the public system and lengthening wait times. But there are public solutions to wait times,” says Mark Calzavara, Regional Organizer with the Council of Canadians. “Long wait times could be minimized under universal health care with political will to address this situation, better coordination and multi-level strategies that make better use of surgical infrastructure. Privatization is not a solution, it causes inequities and hardship when people are ageing and sick, when they are most in need.”

The Council of Canadians joins with health coalitions across the country to call on governments to take action to safeguard single-tier public health care for all.

To read the 66-page Ontario Health Coalition national survey on the threat private clinics pose to public health care, click here. To read the stories of individuals affected by this situation, please see The Globe and Mail news report here. You can read more about the Council of Canadians’ campaign to defend and strengthen public health care here.

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For more information or to arrange interviews:

Dylan Penner, Media Officer, Council of Canadians, 613-795-8685, dpenner@canadians.org

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