Health accessory fees will be banned in Quebec starting Jan. 26, meaning doctors will no longer be able to charge fees of $10 to $20 for services like vaccinations, ultrasounds and colonoscopies.
“It will be impossible to have an added fee,” said Quebec Health Minister Gaétan Barrette, during an interview last year.
“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.”
Vaccinations for young children will no longer be available at the doctor’s office and patients will have to go to the CLSC for their shots.
Some are concerned this will cause delays in service because CLSCs are overcrowded.
Barrette said the government could look at modifying the law in the future.
“It might be possible,” Barrette said.
“Today, it is not because people asked for the prohibition of user fees. When you write a law that says that, there are side effects.”
“It’s very sad that a health minister has this kind of vision because vaccination is an essential service,” said Parti Quebecois health critic, Diane Lamarre.
Lamarre blamed the government and doctors equally for not finding a solution.
“They have enough money,” she said of doctors. “For sure more than people who had to pay for many years $200 for eye drops or $10 or $20 for their vaccine.”
In September, Barrette referred to the health accessory fees charged by some specialists and general practitioners as “overbilling.”
“Patients had to pay $150 to open a file,” Barrette said.
“That’s totally illegal as we speak.”
To help make up for the loss of service in the private sector, the Quebec government has invested $21 million in the public sector.