BY PAULINE WORSFOLD
(SPECIAL TO THE GUARDIAN)
A charter challenge case that could very well affect how health care is delivered in Canada resumes in British Columbia this week.
Dr. Brian Day, CEO of a for-profit surgery clinic, is challenging the ban on extra billing and the use of private insurance for publicly insured services under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, alleging that these laws infringe on a person’s right to defend their body.
Make no mistake. This case is about profit. Profit for doctors, profit for private clinics and profit for insurance companies.
First, it is no coincidence that Dr. Day began this case after his clinic was audited and found in contravention of the B.C. Medicare Protection Act. Instead of paying back the money he gained through illegal billing, he decided to put medicare on trial.
Second, Dr. Day points to wait lists as evidence patients need the right to seek private care. However, that right already exists. Doctors can opt out of the public system and patients are free to pay the price for private service. What does not exist is the right to charge patients more than the public fee while at the same time collecting the public fee from the province. Using private insurance to pay the extra fees is also not allowed by law. In other words, it is against the law to use the public purse to subsidize private profits. Continue reading