Yesterday I received in the Canada Post a very interesting package from my family Doctor. I am one of the lucky Canadians who actually has a family doctor that I can go see on a regular basis (and make appointments with). He is a good Doctor, and has served me and my wife well over the years.
The mailing outlined to me the fees that my Doctor will be charging for various services not covered under the Ontario Health Insurance Program, which included:
- Prescription renewal (over the phone) $11.72
- Back to work note $14.45
- Wart Removal $20.00
- etc., etc., etc.,
I wondered why some of this stuff wasn’t covered under the OHIP program, but I am not going to stop my Doctor from getting paid for services that he does either. If you are asking my opinion, this kind of extra charging is what is going to kill OHIP and I think all this should be paid for in some fashion as part of my medical taxes (but we can discuss that further later, just my opinion).
I then turned the page and saw that in fact this was not just a list of service fees, it was my Doctor offering me an extended warranty program (effectively). For a fee, I can either enroll myself and/or my family in the Coverage plan, and many fees would be waived.
Naturally with any good coverage plan there is the Basic or Standard Plan and the Premium Plan. In the Standard plan a few of the services are covered (mostly administrative), however under the Premium Plan I can get full coverage from all service fees:
- Basic Family $100
- Premium Family $130
Let me be clear very few of these services are actual medical procedures (Wart removal, uninsured vaccinations, TB Skin test and driver’s physical seem to be the only services that are Medical in nature, the rest are simply administrative services (notes, referrals, etc.,)).
I did have a “WTF” moment after I finished reading the letter (and then I read the front page which explained it all to me, yes, I should have read the letter in the order it was sent). I am not happy about having to pay for these services, but this seems to be the Normal Business Procedure for Doctors these days, but now, my Doctor is branching out into the Insurance Business?
The business of running a Doctor’s office is not a trivial one, I fully agree, and there is an overhead involved that needs to be reimbursed in some fashion, but is this the best way to recuperate your operating expenses? None of these expenses would be covered by my Health Insurance at work (I don’t think, I should check), so I am the one that must pay for these services (if I need them).
More Fees Coming?
What is next? My Doctor will start offering Health Insurance like Sun Life? Might not be a bad idea really, if he starts selling Health Insurance he’d make good coin there too.
Any opinions on what my gentle readers think of this program?
- Should I sign up for it?
- Is it justified that my Doctor offers this?
I received the same sort of note my doctor a couple of years ago. We opted not to pay the “premium” because we typically go to the doctor for service.
The issue actually is that doctors are paid for visits, referrals, and prescriptions. But only if you come into the office! If you don’t have an appointment, they don’t get paid.
Confounding the issue is that your family doctor only gets paid for a set number of visits per year. So if you exceed what ever the quota is, you doctor really has no financial motive to see you. This isn’t really your doctors fault, its a funding issue and the Ontario government needs to deal with this and is the real reason why people can’t get doctors (you see if the doctor has x number of patients and is won’t get paid for any more, then why accept another patient?).
My suggestion is that if you see your family using the paid services from your doctor and it would exceed the “premium” then pay the premium. If not, then take the fee for use option.
Hey, it’s extended warranty week on Canajun Finances! It’s not a whole lot of money either way, but I would likely pay out of pocket, especially since your children are, from what I can tell, beyond prime vaccination years. There are, of course, a lot of services you didn’t mention, so if there’s something you know you’ll need every 6 months or so, you can factor that in.
Like most warranties, though, it is probably priced to make a little money, or about break even, based on normal usage.
Since I don’t have the list to compare, I would also check to see if some of the services are provided by other agencies, and if your doctor is getting into the ‘value-added’ business. Here in BC, TB testing and many vaccinations are provided by the Public Health Unit, although there are some (travel related vaccines that are not so covered).
Also, look at how often you might need a note for work, or the other services offered, and decide if you can just pay for them as you go. The insurance plan does not prevent you getting the service, it just requires you pay at each instance instance.
I’d like to know how wide spread this practice is. $130 is more than my family would spend in a year on such services, but will we all have to pay it to have a family doctor?