(Black Press Media file)

(Black Press Media file)

Key to keeping doctors from private health care is a strong B.C. Medicare: UBC prof

Quebec’s example could provide a guideline for B.C.

The battle over a private surgery centre in Vancouver could have big implications for physicians choosing whether to practice in the public or private system.

That’s according to Michael Law, a professor at the University of B.C.’s school of population and public health. Law partnered with University of Victoria researchers to look at how Quebec doctors left the public health care system after two policy changes. The first was a 2005 Supreme Court of Canada ruling on Chaoulli v. Quebec that found the province’s banning of private insurance for publicly insured medical services violated the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. The second was a regulatory clampdown forbidding double billing that was implemented by Quebec’s government in 2017.

In B.C., the issue of double billing is likely headed to the province’s top court, after the Cambie Surgery Centre lost a bid to double-bill patients at the B.C. Supreme Court. Double billing is when a health-care provide bills the patient and the government for the service. Owner Dr. Brian Day had claimed the B.C. government was denying patients the right to timely care by not letting them go private.

Day lost the ruling, but will likely appeal the decision.

Law said the decision of that ruling could have longstanding implications for B.C.

“British Columbia does not allow physicians to practice in both the public sector and private sector, you either have to be in or out,” he said. “One of the sections in the Medicare Act that was under challenge was that section.”

Law said that his team looked at Quebec doctors because unlike B.C., that province publishes a monthly list of physicians who have opted out of the public sector. In B.C. he said, while private surgery clinics are popular, it’s impossible to tell how many doctors are leaving the public system.

In Quebec, the number of doctors leaving is significant. For specialists, researchers found 23 doctors opted out in 1994, compared to 150 in 2019 – a 552 per cent increase.

For family doctors, the rise in those leaving the public system was even higher. In 1994, nine family doctors had opted out of the public system. By 2019, that number had grown to 347 – a spike of 3,755 per cent. If that trend is mirrored in B.C., where family doctors are already often lacking, the province could have a problem on its hands.

But Law said that regardless of the results of the Cambie Surgery Centre’s appeal, there are steps the province can take to make sure doctors stay in the public system.

“Don’t give people a reason to want to go to the private sector,” he said. “You need to maintain a level of quality and accessibility in the public sector that doesn’t make people feel the necessity of going private and paying to get things done.”

READ MORE: B.C. Supreme Court rules against private healthcare centre, sides with province


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Healthcare

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A health worker holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered to members of the police at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Mainz, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. (Andreas Arnold/dpa via AP)
43 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health

368 cases in the region remain active

File photo
Driver reports being followed on Hwy 5 from Kamloops

Submitted by Sgt. G.D. Simpson February 25 The Clearwater Fire Department requested… Continue reading

The RCMP arrest one of the suspects on Highway 97 courtesy of cell phone footage shot by a bystander. (April Thomas photo)
WATCH: Two suspects arrested after multi-jurisdictional chase

A half dozen police cars were seen heading north on Highway 97

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Interior Health reports 16 new COVID-19 cases

423 cases remain active in the region

(Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Murder charge laid in February 2020 stabbing death of Smithers man

Michael Egenolf is charged with the second-degree murder of Brodie Cumiskey

Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Dr. Bonnie Henry pauses for a moment as she gives her daily media briefing regarding COVID-19 for British Columbia in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
7 additional deaths and 542 new COVID-19 cases in B.C.

Provincial health officials reported 18 new COVID-19 cases linked to variants of concern

The City of Vancouver estimates there are 3,500 Canada geese in the city right now, and that number is growing. (Bruce Hogarth)
Help tame Vancouver’s Canada goose population by reporting nests: park officials

The city is asking residents to be on the lookout so staff can remove nests or addle eggs

Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson (Office of the Chief Justice)
Judge questions whether B.C.’s top doctor appreciated right to religious freedom

Lawyer for province says Dr. Henry has outlined the reasons for her orders publicly

A sample of guns seized at the Pacific Highway border crossing from the U.S. into B.C. in 2014. Guns smuggled from the U.S. are used in criminal activity, often associated with drug gangs. (Canada Border Service Agency)
B.C. moves to seize vehicles transporting illegal firearms

Bill bans sale of imitation or BB guns to young people

BC Housing minister David Eby is concerned that Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter will result in a “tent city” similar to this one in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / Black Press file)
‘Disappointed and baffled’ B.C. housing minister warns of tent city in Penticton

Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter could create tent city, says David Eby

A recently published study out of UBC has found a link between life satisfaction levels and overall health. (Pixabay)
Satisfied with life? It’s likely you’re healthier for it: UBC study

UBC psychologists have found those more satisfied with their life have a 26% reduced risk of dying

A vial of some of the first 500,000 of the two million AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Canada has secured through a deal with the Serum Institute of India in partnership with Verity Pharma at a facility in Milton, Ont., on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio - POOL
Federal panel recommends 4-month gap between COVID vaccine doses due to limited supply

The recommendation applies to all COVID-19 vaccines currently approved in Canada

A vial of Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a family doctor office, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021 in Paris. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP -Christophe Ena
Trudeau ‘optimistic’ that timeline for rollout of COVID vaccines can be accelerated

Canada set to receive more than 6M COVID-19 vaccine dose than initially expected, by end of March

Beginning late Tuesday, anti-pipeline protesters blocked the intersection of Hastings Street and Clark Drive in Vancouver. (Instagram/Braidedwarriors)
Demonstrators block key access to Vancouver port over jail for pipeline protester

They group is protesting a 90-day jail sentence handed to a fellow anti-pipeline protester

Most Read