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Some medical procedures cost more in private clinics, Quebec study finds

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A study has found the cost of surgeries and other procedures performed in the private sector in Quebec far exceeds their public-sector equivalents, sometimes by as much as 150 per cent.

The study was based on data obtained by the Institut de recherche et d'informations socioéconomiques (IRIS) through an access to information request. IRIS looked at a pilot project initiated in 2016 by former Health and Social Services Minister Gaétan Barrette, which aimed to compare the costs of five types of surgeries and procedures between the public network and three private clinics.

Anne Plourde, a researcher at IRIS, reports, among other things, that in 2019-2020, the cost of a carpal tunnel surgery averaged $908 in the private sector compared to $495 in the public sector; a short colonoscopy cost $739 in the private sector compared to $290 in a public institution.

Between 2018-2019 and 2019-2020, in the public sector, the cost decreased by 11 per cent for cataract surgeries, 38 per cent for long colonoscopies, and 13 per cent for short colonoscopies, while it increased by three per cent, four per cent, and 81 per cent respectively in private medical centers.

Plourde added that the conditions negotiated by the Quebec government with private clinics as part of the pilot project are incentives to increase costs.

Ten days ago, a coalition of dozens of organizations criticized the Health Plan unveiled by Health Minister Christian Dubé, calling it an attack on the pillars of the public system, which include universality and accessibility.

The coalition expressed concern that the privatization of the health care system is accelerating, claiming that the private sector is not there to provide free health care, but to make a profit.

-- This report was first published by The Canadian Press in French on Monday, April 24, 2023.

 

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