The Billing of Patients Must End, Once and For All!
Maintaining Accessible Healthcare Means Putting a Stop to Fees
Montreal, 29 January 2017 – Last September, with great fanfare, Minister of Health and Social Services Gaétan Barrette announced a ban on accessory healthcare fees. To ensure compliance with this regulation, which came into force on January 26th, the Point St. Charles Community Health Clinic’s “Fight for Health” Committee is launching a new online registry to monitor accessory fees.
“It is imperative to ensure that medical clinics stop this kind of billing, which is now illegal,” stated Élise-Mercier Gouin, member of the Fight for Health Committee. The new registry will serve to expose billing that violates the ban on accessory fees. Everyone asked to pay fees - for medication or an aesthetic during an exam or surgery in a medical clinic; for putting on a brace or bandage - is invited to use the monitoring registry to report. The Point St. Charles Community Clinic has worked for many years to ban accessory fees because these fees undermine the accessibility of healthcare, particularly for low income people.
“We welcome the ban on accessory fees; however, we are keeping a close eye on it,” said Stéphane Defoy, community organizer at the Clinic. “Some medical clinics will likely find new ways to make patients pay. For example, some doctors have asked people to go by the pharmacy to get medical supplies needed for an exam or a surgery! That is unacceptable!” Doctors receive a premium on their medical work when they see patients in their clinic. This additional amount is meant to cover administrative fees and supplies. On the other hand, no longer able to bill patients, some doctors threaten to disaffiliate from the RAMQ to offer their services to the private sector. Stéphane Defoy believes that we should not panic in front (vis-a-vis) of a strategy which aims at pushing the government to reconsider their decision. "The status quo is no longer possible. For decades, medical clinics were allowed to operate with a business model based on charging fees that were inconsistent with the Canada Health Act", he concludes.
The Fight for Health Committee is also concerned that the ban on accessory fees might result in a significant increase of other fees, billed for non-insured care and services such as filling in administrative forms or refilling a prescription without a medical appointment.
“Our new registry will continue to track other kinds of fees billed, to show the full extent of practices undermining healthcare accessibility,” explained Laurent Chicoine, another member of the Fight for Health Committee.
“We believe that all medically necessary care and treatment should be covered, in full, by our public system,” he added.
The monitoring registry can be accessed through the Pointe St. Charles Community Clinic website, http://ccpsc.qc.ca/registre.
The old registry of fees billed during medical consultations, launched by the Clinic in February 2015, was filled in by more than 700 people. In this way, these people showed their objection to having their pockets dipped into during a visit to a medical clinic.
Point St. Charles Community Clinic: The Community Clinic is a non-profit organization mandated to offer CLSC services to the population of Point St. Charles. The Clinic believes that health is a right, encourages the participation of community members, and is particularly concerned with promoting health from the perspective of social justice and solidarity.
- Radio-Canada : « Règlement sur les frais accessoires : un registre pour dénoncer toute entrave. ».
- Le Devoir : « Des citoyens promettent de surveiller les médecins.».
- Journal Metro : « Un registre sur la fin des frais accessoires. ».
- The Gazette : « New online registery to track accessory fees charged by doctors. ».
- iHeartradio : « Montreal clinic sets up online registery to monitor extra medical fees. ».
- Radio-Canada : « Frais accessoires : ce qui ne peut plus être facturé au patient. ».
- Le Devoir : « Entente conclue entre Québec et les médecins spécialistes. ».
- The Gazette : « Health Minister Gaétan Barrette carves out deal with medical professionals. ».