Driving to an appointment with my family doctor the other day, I noticed a new and very fancy building nearing completion down the road from the doctor’s office. The sign was already on the building and it is one of the private clinics that Ontario premier Doug Ford has been promising Ontario. This private clinic is for cataracts and other eye surgery and it has obviously been planned for a while.
Thinking about that clinic near my doctor’s office makes an interesting comparison. Family practices are currently having a hard time meeting their expenses each month and ophthalmologists have been making out like bandits. Obviously, there will be a lot of expensive equipment in that building but that modern equipment enables the doctors to do in minutes what used to be an hour and more of delicate surgery. With assembly-line-like cataract surgery, Ontario’s ophthalmologists are fast-tracked millionaires.
And the problem rests with the government and the Ontario Medical Association (OMA). The stranglehold that the specialists have on the OMA is unfair to the general practitioners. Nobody is saying that specialists do not deserve something extra for the long internships required, but a difference that can be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars a year between the specialist and the general practitioner is not only vulgar but unnecessary.
But it is not just the Medicare payments to these private clinics that are the concern. For too long now, our ophthalmologists have been loading on non-Medicare charges. These specialists have been hawking expensive lens to seniors who can ill afford them and they do little to their benefit. Older people are often of the school that believes in doing what the doctor recommends. And who really wants to say ‘no’ to someone who will be using a laser on their eyes.
It is not so hard to imagine under the Ford government, that we could have private surgeries with an array of extra cost titanium hips and joints for replacement parts on sale. And imagine what you could sell in the way of baby merchandise at a private birthing clinic. Medical doctors can also be entrepreneurial.
Copyright 2023 © Peter Lowry
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