Patients reaching for their credit card, not just their OHIP card: Report

By Matt Hutcheson

The Ontario Health Coalition’s (OHC) most recent report paints a damning picture of the Ford government’s expansion of health care to private clinics.

The OHC surveyed people between February 5 and March 8, asking patients about their experiences with care in private clinics. There were 231 patients who responded with 120 saying they were unlawfully charged.

“The patients are being told they need to pay for these medically needed surgeries that are in fact covered by OHIP,” Jim Stewart, Chair, Waterloo Region Health Coalition, said.

While speaking to The Mike Farwell Show, Stewart added, “They’re also told the waitlist in the hospitals are two to three years and that’s just not true.”

Stewart points out there is a publicly available website that shows wait times for various surgeries and tests.

The clinics were offering the patients a chance to “jump the queue” for a fee.

The report said the deception didn’t stop there. It cited cases of patients being misled about the effectiveness or quality of OHIP-covered eye surgeries. It said some patients had unnecessary services mixed with necessary services so fees could be added.

There were also reports of patients being charged for appointments, memberships and administration fees.

“This flies right in the face of what Doug Ford was talking about when he said you’ll never have to pay with your credit card, only your OHIP card,” Stewart said.

The premier was adamant when the province rolled out the expansion of private clinics, that Ontarians would not have to pay out-of-pocket for OHIP-covered services.

Stewart said that clearly isn’t the case.

“Like, who is naïve enough to think in Ontario that a for-profit clinic isn’t interested in getting some money?” he said.

For its part, the province has said it has provided “guardrails” to protect patients from added, unnecessary fees.

The OHC calls those guardrails performative.

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