October 16, 2014 7:34 pm
Updated: October 17, 2014 9:32 am

Wall asking if Sask. should allow you to pay for private MRIs

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall floated the idea Thursday of allowing private MRI services in the province.

Devin Sauer / Global News
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SASKATOON – Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall is floating the idea of allowing patients quicker access to diagnostic services if they can afford it.

“It’s time for us to look at the availability of private MRIs for people like they have in Alberta,” Wall said.

The question from Wall received mixed reaction online.

In Alberta and British Columbia, patients can elect to pay for diagnostic work. An MRI in Alberta can cost up to $700 Wall said.

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Research in a 2012 report by the Canadian Institute for Health Information shows Albertans wait longer for MRIs, while a 2013 study by the Fraser Institue said MRI waits in B.C. are twice as long as Saskatchewan and Alberta.

But Wall said it’s worth exploring the Alberta system when many people already leave Saskatchewan to pay out of pocket.

“If we could do that with diagnostics, with MRIs, does it make sense that the wait list will shrink? Those who want to pay would come off the public wait list and they’ll get their MRIs, and thereby shortening the wait list for all whether they wish to pay or not.”

Wall said there would need to be a barrier between the public and private systems, so the public system wouldn’t lose front line staff.

[View the story “Should you be able to pay for a private MRI in Saskatchewan?” on Storify]
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