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Tuesday, September 12th 2006

The Joys of Socialized Medicine

Okay, so universal healthcare in the US will probably never look like this, where we specifically limit commercial/private access, but still. The Britich Columbia government just wants to remind you paying for healthcare is illegal!

[Health Minister] Abbott has ordered St. Paul’s Hospital to stop renting out its magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) centre to for-pay providers who offer MRI tests to Lower Mainland patients for about $755, often within days of those patients being told they would have to wait months in the public system.

“If queue-jumping has occurred that’s contrary to the Canada Health Act, then obviously that’s unacceptable, inappropriate and of enormous concern to us,’’ Abbott said Tuesday.

The Canada Health Act forbids patients from paying for “medically necessary’’ treatment. Provincial policy allows public facilities to be accessed in off-hours by third-party publicly funded insurers such as Worksafe B.C., ICBC and the RCMP, but not private third-party insurers.

NDP critic Adrian Dix said government has “allowed a pattern of what they acknowledge is illegal behaviour to take place’’ at St. Paul’s. “For five years, government has encouraged just this sort of activity. They’ve asked hospitals such as St. Paul’s to find private revenue, they’ve encouraged private health care in B.C. and they’ve under-funded the public system.’’

According to VIHA, the average wait time for a routine MRI is 14.5 weeks in Victoria and 7.4 weeks in Nanaimo. Emergency MRIs are done faster, Germain said. MRI facilities typically run on extended hours, such as 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., she said.