REGINA – The Saskatchewan government has passed legislation that will allow people to pay privately for MRIs. Health Minister Dustin Duncan says the move will provide additional MRI capacity at no cost to taxpayers.
Private clinics will have to provide a second scan to a patient on the public wait list at no charge every time a scan is provided to someone who chooses to pay for an MRI.
“Currently, in Saskatchewan today, when somebody goes out of province or out of country, pays for an MRI scan and brings it back to the province, the only real benefit that we get to that is that they’re not sitting on our wait list,” Duncan said Wednesday.
“What this will provide for is the opportunity not only have that person not on our wait list, but a person that is currently sitting on our wait list, to have their scan provided in a more timely fashion.”
Duncan also says it doesn’t mean people can get an MRI whenever they want one, because they’ll still need to be referred by a doctor.
Opposition NDP Leader Cam Broten says the change doesn’t help health care overall.
“I know that waits aren’t a good thing,” said Broten, who voted against the legislation.
“But I believe firmly that we need to follow an approach that fixes the system for everyone, fixes the system for the greatest number of people, not just those who can pay.”
Broten says allowing people to pay could also lead to queue-jumping for care because someone who can get an MRI faster may get in line sooner for surgery since they’ve already had their scan.
Unions have said it’s the beginning of two-tier health care and raised the possibility that private clinics will poach medical workers from the public system.
© 2015 The Canadian Press