To be certain, the concept of private healthcare in Canada is controversial. That doesn’t mean that it should not be discussed. A province by province analysis of the discrepancies of MRI’s provides a good example.
Every province in Canada has its own interpretation of what private healthcare means. You can see the differences when ordering an MRI.
For example, in British Columbia, a patient can walk down to the corner with his/her credit card, ask for and receive a private pay MRI. This is the most liberal province in Canada for private pay MRI’s.
In Ontario, a 3rd party payor such as an insurance company or the prison system can buy a private MRI from a public hospital. Hospitals love parking lots because they make lots of money for the hospital as does renting space to Starbucks, Tim Hortons or to Druxy’s deli. But selling a private pay MRI to an individual is not kosher.
In Quebec, a patient speaking either English or French can ask for, receive and pay privately for a MRI. Quebecers can also buy wine and beer in their grocery stores. Quebecers take pride in their differences even when it comes to ordering an MRI.
Alberta used to be more liberal with the purchase of private MRI’s but that has changed. It is much more restrictive now. Patients have the option of taking Westjet to Vancouver for their private pay MRI’s and PET scans or checkups at the False Creek Clinic.
The Maritimes, Manitoba and Saskatchewan do not allow private pay MRIs. These patients will often get out their passports, get in the car and sneak across the US border for a private pay MRI. The American MRI centers are very happy with this business. The capital might have gone to our public hospitals. They need the capital. But unfortunately, it doesn’t. Maybe they should look at what is happening in B.C.
I would bet my Big Bertha driver that BC will get a private hospital someday. This hospital will be a gleaming example of what private healthcare can do as it serves the Pacific Rim economies with state of the art, Canadian-branded and cost effective healthcare services.
Ironically, taxes from these private healthcare earnings will be remitted to the provincial and federal coffers to help to fund the public healthcare system.
So, as you can see, healthcare in Canada is more balkanized than harmonized. But I am sure that some day a private pay MRI will be as easy to purchase in Canada as a double double.