March 1, 2013
VANCOUVER – A man suffering an aneurysm was turned away from a private medical clinic in Kelowna over an unpaid $50 bill, in what doctors are calling an appalling violation of the principles of our health care system.
“Our public health care system is based on need, not ability to pay, and this is a serious violation of that code,” said Dr. Monika Dutt, board member of Canadian Doctors for Medicare.
“This is something we read about in the U.S. – not something we expect to see happening here in Canada. When $50 is more important than saving a man’s life, we know we have serious problems with the private aspect of our system.”
Lakeshore Medical Clinic refused Aaron Korpaski access to a doctor because of his unpaid medical bills, leaving him to drive himself to the nearest hospital. B.C.’s Ministry of Health has said that private clinics are entitled to their own billing rules, but doctors have an ethical responsibility to treat the ill.
However, in private settings, this leaves patients to rely on administrative staff’s interpretation of a doctor's ethical responsibility. Without the ability to regulate private clinics, the government is unable to ensure that doctors meet that responsibility.
“All health care professionals, including front-line staff, should be clear that Canadians have the right to care based on the urgency of their need,” said Dutt.
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