It was no surprise that the government introduced legislation to allow the option for private pay CT scans, but the inclusion of the words “medical imaging” had the opposition fearing this opens the backdoor for more privatization.
“The opportunity to create user pay diagnostics is right there in the bill,” NDP health critic Danielle Chartier said.
“If that’s something they weren’t thinking of, or opening the door down the road, they never should have put it in the bill in the first place. They only campaigned on CT Scans.”
The Saskatchewan Party campaigned on introducing a private pay option for CT scans, with the condition that the clinic provide a free scan to someone waiting on the public list.
“What we’re planning to adopt is legislation that will provide us with some flexibility,” Health Minister Dustin Duncan said.
He said in the event the government wants to add another diagnostic scan to the private pay list, like x-rays, they wouldn’t have to scrap the existing legislation and introduce a new bill like they have with the CT scans.
“I think we have the license to try some innovative things and to be pretty open with the public that we’ll have to do some innovative things in healthcare if we’re going to see a sustainable system going forward,” Duncan explained.
However, Chartier said the government hasn’t been shy to bring bills back in the past to add things to them, and worries about how this my impact Medicare.
“The reality is if you pay for diagnostic services you get treatment before other people do,” she said.
“Why would you pay for diagnostics if it means you couldn’t get your treatment? This is about getting treatment faster than those on the public list.”
Legislation allowing private MRIs came into effect on February 29, 2016. Since then 258 scans have been done, and 77 were paid for. The other 181 were done through previously made agreements with the Worker’s Compensation Board and Saskatchewan Roughriders.
Currently there are two licensed facilities in Regina that can provide private MRI scans.