Quebec to end health accessory fees; doctors and clinics to absorb costs

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WATCH ABOVE: Extra health care fees may soon be a thing of the past, according to Quebec Health Minister Gaétan Barrette – May 3, 2016

Quebec will be putting an end to health accessory fees by early January 2017.

The change will make it illegal for patients to be charged for medical services that are covered through public health insurance.

READ MORE: Quebec health minister suggests ‘extra’ medical fees come out of doctor salaries

On Wednesday, Quebec Health Minister Gaétan Barrette referred to the health accessory fees charged by some specialists and general practitioners as “over-billing.”

Barrette said he expects doctors and clinics to now absorb those costs.

“Two examples: lately we’ve seen patients who had to pay $200 for eye drops in order to have an exam or a treatment. That will go away. It’s going to be zero. Patients had to pay $150 to open a file. That’s totally illegal as we speak.”

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READ MORE: Auditor general says Quebec government needs to control medical user fees

User fees can be applied for a number of things, including filling out forms, equipment the clinic uses and diagnostic testing.

A year ago, a group of health care professionals spoke out about the problem of being excessively charged.

“If you go to the pharmacy, it’s covered by the insurance,” said Dr. Isabelle Leblanc of Physicians for Public Health Care.

READ MORE: New pilot project won’t open door to privatize Quebec healthcare: Barrette

“If you go to the hospital, it’s covered by your Medicare card. So why not just apply the drug insurance to the clinics when you go see your doctor as well? It’s not normal to pay $500 for a medication that costs $1.”

Barrette estimated the cost of user fees could be around $50 million.

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