Private Health Care Not There for Albertans During Downturn
Friends of Medicare are renewing their call for an audit of all private boutique clinics in Alberta in light of reports from CBC news of Calgary's Copeman clinic "discouraging patients who can't pay special fees from seeing their (Copeman's) doctors."
"Copeman's actions are yet another example of the failures of private care. It is health care by the elite, for the elite. Albertans support the principle that health care is there when you need it, not just when times are good. Copeman's actions seem to discourage patients from seeing their doctors while their company downsizes benefit packages which is unacceptable," said Executive Director Sandra Azocar. "Public health care should be available to all, regardless of ability to pay. The continued operation and existence of clinics like Copeman violates that important principle."
The CBC story highlights the situation for over 100 employees of Athabasca Oil who saw their benefits package reduced while executives kept theirs. This meant that coverage for Copeman's expensive fees were no longer guaranteed. Copeman staff were discouraged from talking about non-fee coverage with patients. The Alberta Health Care Insurance Act prohibits clinics from requiring fees for providing insured services.
"We don't know how many other Albertans are facing similar situations with these private clinics while companies downsize and offload costs on employees," Azocar continued. "We are renewing our call on the Alberta Government to expand their audit to all private boutique clinics to protect the interests of health care users during these tough economic times. We hope to see action taken to end the marketization of our illnesses."