(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

(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

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. seniors aged 90+ can start to sign up for vaccination on March 8

Long-term care residents protected by shots already given

A health care worker prepares to test a Coastal GasLink field worker for COVID-19. (Coastal GasLink photo)
Coastal GasLink begins COVID screening of pipeline workers

Construction is once again ramping up following Northern Health approval of COVID management plan

FILE – A COVID-19 vaccine being prepared. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
B.C. seniors 80 years and older to get COVID vaccine details over next 2 weeks: Henry

Province is expanding vaccine workforce as officials ramp up age-based rollout

Chris Paulson of Burns Lake took a quick selfie with a lynx over the weekend of Feb. 20-22, 2021, after the wild cat was found eating some of his chickens. (Chris Paulson/Facebook)
VIDEO: Burns Lake man grabs lynx by scruff after chickens attacked

‘Let’s see the damage you did, buddy,’ Chris Paulson says to the wild cat

Langley resident Carrie MacKay shared a video showing how stairs are a challenge after spending weeks in hospital battling COVID-19 (Special to Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Stairs a challenge for B.C. woman who chronicled COVID-19 battle

‘I can now walk for six (to) 10 minutes a day’

FILE – Oshawa Generals forward Anthony Cirelli, left, shoots and scores his team’s first goal against Kelowna Rockets goalie Jackson Whistle during second period action at the Memorial Cup final in Quebec City on Sunday, May 31, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot
B.C. government approves plan in principle to allow WHL to resume in the province

League includes Kamloops Blazers, Kelowna Rockets, Prince George Cougars, Vancouver Giants, Victoria Royals

The fundraising effort to purchase 40 hectares west of Cottonwood Lake announced its success this week. Photo: Submitted
Nelson society raises $400K to save regional park from logging project

The Nelson community group has raised $400,000 to purchase 40 hectares of forest

AstraZeneca’s vaccine ready for use at the vaccination centre in Apolda, Germany, Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Michael Reichel/dpa via AP
National panel advises against using Oxford-AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine on seniors

NACI panel said vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna are preferred for seniors ‘due to suggested superior efficacy’

A public health order has extended the types of health care professionals who can give the COVID-19 vaccine. (Photo courtesy of CHI Franciscan)
‘It’s great that midwives are included’ in rollout of B.C.’s COVID vaccine plan, says college

The order will help the province staff the mass vaccination clinics planned for April

Shipping containers are seen at the Fairview Cove Container Terminal in Halifax on Friday, Aug. 25, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Canadian economy contracted 5.4 per cent in 2020, worst year on record

Drop was largely due to shutdowns in the spring as COVID began to spread

The Nanaimo Clippers in action at Frank Crane Arena in early 2020. (News Bulletin file photo)
Nanaimo Clippers for sale, owner says hockey won’t be back to normal any time soon

Wes Mussio says he’s had numerous inquiries about the junior A club already

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s coronavirus situation, May 8, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C.’s weekend COVID-19 cases: 532 Saturday, 508 Sunday, 438 Monday

Fraser Health still has most, eight more coronavirus deaths

B.C. Attorney General David Eby speaks in the legislature, Dec. 7, 2020. Eby was given responsibility for housing after the October 2020 provincial election. (Hansard TV)
B.C. extends COVID-19 rent freeze again, to the end of 2021

‘Renoviction’ rules tightened, rent capped to inflation in 2022

Most Read