The privatization of health care services in BC has expanded over the last six years. Take action today to support the BC government cracking down on for-profit corporations' unlawful practices.
For-profit health care companies are unlawfully extra-billing patients to make more profit for their investors. Between 2016/17 and 2020/21, BC had $83.3 million of unlawful extra-billing – the most of any province in Canada.
Extra-billing happens when patients are either charged directly by their health care provider for services already covered by the Medical Services Plan or charged in addition to the amounts prescribed by the Medical Services Plan. This includes medically necessary diagnostic services such as MRI or CT scans. This practice contravenes the principles of the Canada Health Act as well as the BC Medicare Protection Act.
In 2020-2021 alone, for-profit health care companies and providers broke the law by taking $23 million from BC residents by extra-billing them for health care services already covered by the public Medical Services Plan. Of this, $17 million was extra-billing for medically necessary diagnostic imaging such as MRI or CT scans. This is money that should be in the pockets of British Columbians as they struggle to pay for housing, medication, food, and other essentials. Let these companies know your health is not for profit.
Extra-billing impacts British Columbians in two ways. First, it allows people who have the means to pay out of pocket for medically necessary procedures to jump the queue. This leaves the public system that most of us rely on with longer wait times as resources, including human resources, are diverted into the for-profit sector. Evidence from around the world and in other provinces show that relying on for-profit companies to deliver health care is more expensive and leads to longer waits and worse outcomes.
Second, extra-billing impacts British Columbians as taxpayers. BC, like other provinces, relies on federal funding for our provincial health care system through the Canada Health Transfer (CHT). The federal government withholds Canada Health Transfers – dollar for dollar –based on the amount of extra-billing. Between 2016 and 2020 the federal government withheld $83.3 million. For 2020-21, the largest share of total extra-billing was in diagnostic imaging, which remains widespread as the provisions in the Medicare Protection Act to prevent extra-billing in diagnostic services (Section 18.1) have not been brought into effect.
The BC government has taken legal action against two of these companies (Telus Health & Harrison Healthcare). In recognition of these actions and other efforts to curb extra-billing by BC, the federal government has released some of the withheld Canada Health Transfer funding. Yet, there are other companies unlawfully charging patients more than they are allowed by law so future federal health funding is likely to be withheld. This is money owed to BC residents to fund a robust public health system that continues to be taken away due to the unlawful actions of for-profit health care companies.
Add your voice HERE to our provincial call for proactive enforcement of BC's laws on extra-billing so all British Columbians are protected.