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Niagara Falls
Wednesday, May 22, 2024
Letter: Isn’t having more health care options a good thing for Ontarians?
Letter. Supplied

Dear editor:

I am writing regarding the May 11 story, “Health coalition launches referendum to stop Ford’s expansion of private clinics.”

I have a few questions and comments in regards to this topic (which seems to have taken on a life of its own).

First the question: will the coalition’s planned referendum offer people a chance to vote “for” or “against” or just “against” health care system changes?

We have a huge crisis regarding access to care and services. Many of the long wait time procedures affect older people. This will only get worse as our population ages.

Because our system is “free for all” (but truly we pay for this through our very high taxes), there is no way it can be perfect and easily accessible. It definitely needs help. Doing nothing is not an option.

Having another layer of specialty services outside of the hospital scene should be, or could be, both cost-effective and offer more access to more people.

But the third-party element is of concern to doctors. Can this not be minimized or supervised instead of just dismissing it?

There are already many private clinics – if you want to call them that. Many of us have been to a clinic for a colonoscopy, eye exams, cataract surgery and the dermatologist. The Shouldice Hospital in Thornhill is a world-renowned facility for hernia operations.

When you actually think about your doctor’s office (if you are lucky enough to have one), they operate much like a private clinic.

The doctors all have to pay their own business costs, rent, salaries, supplies etc. and then bill OHIP for the time when they see you, the patient. Many doctors also provide (for a fee) services that are not covered by OHIP.

What is so wrong with having a surgeon have a clinic where all he or she does every day is knee surgery, for example?

There could be huge advantages because you would increase the number of doctors who could choose these specialties and therefore the calibre of care goes way up. But the big upside would be accessibility.

If we think a two-tier health care system is not already in place, we are dreaming. I did not know until recently that one can in fact go to another province to pay for a surgery that you cannot access here because of long wait times.

And Ontario doctors can also be paid for services by patients not covered by OHIP.

But that is not what is really under discussion here. We are talking about increasing access to services we already provide, so we don’t have to look elsewhere. I see no downside.

But it is a complex issue and I am sure I am not the only one who does not fully understand it.

Carroll Baker
NOTL

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