Price Controls Cause Doctor Shortage in Canada
So I used the Health Care Options Directory on the same government website.This allows you to plug in your postal code and find all family doctors listed within a certain radius. It is a particularly soul-destroying experience.
The opening page lists no names or phone numbers, just the number of doctors at each address. It takes more clicks to get the contact information. And after you go through those steps and make the calls, you find that none of the doctors are accepting patients.
I phoned all 84 doctors who were listed as practising within 10 kilometres of my home. Some of their receptionists were polite. Some were surly. All rejected me.
This is from Gloria Galloway, “The Soul-Destroying Search for a Family Doctor,” Globe and Mail, August 21, 2011. Read the whole thing.
The one part that surprised me was this:
Then I found another Web-based service called HealthAware.ca. It allows you to search for doctors who are accepting patients. Skeptical, I gave it a try. Lo and behold, there was a doctor listed at a clinic called ExecHealth located right behind my office. Hallelujah!
When I called I was directed to their marketing department. And yes, said the man on the other end of the line, they would be glad to take me as a patient. For $3,000 a year. I actually gave it some thought before declining the offer.
As I have understood Canada’s single payer system, it is one in which the government is the only payer: thus the word “single.” But it sounds as if Ms. Galloway could have had a doctor for $3,000 a year. Does this mean that the clinic was breaking the law? Or does it mean that, possibly in response to the Chaoulli v. Quebec decision in 2005, things are loosening up? If the latter, I wonder what the other terms of the deal were. Was it like concierge care? Was one guaranteed up to x number of visits per year?
See here for an earlier discussion.
HT to Pierre Lemieux.