WHAT WE CAN LEARN FROM OUR NEIGHBORS TO THE NORTH …What Concierge Medical Care Looks Like With A Nationalized Healthcare Program …
By Michael Tetreault, Editor-In-Chief
ATLANTA, GA. [November 14, 2012] – A couple of years ago our organization, Concierge Medicine Today, started a publication called Concierge Medicine CANADA for our neighbors and readers to the north. Foreseeing the debate and impact of operating a concierge medical practice under a nationalized healthcare program, we can learn from the challenges and pitfalls Canadian physicians and patients are dealing with regarding concierge medical healthcare.
Just last year, CTV News reported that:
In Whitby, Ontario, pediatrician Dr. Karen Dockrill had been capping her patient load at her clinic, Mom and Baby Depot Health and Family Resource Centre, since 2006. For $1,500 a year, patients received round-the-clock access to a doctor or nurse as well as access to complementary services, such as massage therapists, chiropractors and dieticians. The clinic didn’t charge patients for necessary medical services; the provincial health insurance still paid the $32 doctors’ fee for a visit. But by charging her patients an extra annual fee, she was able to offer them much longer appointments, ensuring that patients could take the time to talk with her and discuss their children’s health issues.
But patients were not accepted into the clinic unless they paid the annual fee. That’s where Dockrill ran into trouble.
After a parent complained, the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons threatened to pull Dockrill’s licence. Instead, Dockrill agreed to stop charging the fee, but had to drop her patients’ access to the extra complementary services. But she still defends her practice.
She believes that patients should be allowed to buy add-on medical services that go beyond insured services, if they choose. The debate over the future of Canada’s universal health-care system is heating up as the current Health Accord between the federal government and the provinces nears its expiration date, and an aging population requires an increasing amount of care.
While “concierge” clinics have the potential to alleviate such problems as long wait lists for surgeries and diagnostic tests for some patients, many experts agree that such clinics allow those who can afford it to jump the queue.
Dr. Irfan Dhalla, a physician and health-care policy researcher at Toronto’s St. Michael’s Hospital, says the fact that “concierge” clinics offer special access to people who have more money fundamentally goes against something that most Canadians hold dear: universal access to medicine. He also worries that whenever a doctor opens up a concierge clinic and limits the number of patients they take, they risk worsening the country’s doctor shortage.
“We don’t have enough family doctors in Canada as it is right now, and boutique medicine or concierge medicine will only make that problem worse,” he told CTV News. He believes that regulators have a right to step in. “There’s no doubt that the Canada Health Act was set up to avoid these kinds of circumstances, and if physicians have been able to find loopholes, then I think the onus is on provincial and federal governments to try and close those holes,” Dhalla said.
The re-election of President Obama has raised a lot of questions and yielded very few answers about the long-term impact ObamaCare will have on concierge medicine practices, patient care, direct primary care and the like across America. We’ve seen what the nationalized healthcare system in Canada has been doing for years now. Concierge doctors up north are not well-received by a patient-audience resolved to use and love their supposedly “free” healthcare benefits.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported Monday, Nov. 12th, 2012, President Obama’s re-election solidified the future of national health care, and now it’s up to the states to carry it out. The Chronicle continues to say that by this Friday, all 50 states plus the District of Columbia must let the Obama administration know whether they plan to set up their own insurance exchanges, a key element of the Affordable Care Act or let the federal government do it for them.
In the coming weeks and months we are going to read, watch and learn a lot more about the impact of Obamacare across America. Many people have asked what the re-election of our President and the full implementation of PPACA [Obamacare] will have on concierge medicine … we asked several of the industry’s news makers and leaders in the medical profession their opinion on the long-term impact. We also turned to our Canadian readers and Canadian “concierge” physicians for their opinion — as Canada already has a nationalized healthcare system. You will hear their opinions in upcoming CMT reports.
Our continued thanks to all of our readers and your support of our organization –
Editor-In-Chief, Concierge Medicine Today
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