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Ontario healthcare - stealth privatization

John Bell

May 31, 2022

Ontario residents are suddenly discovering that blood testing and other diagnostic work is no longer covered by OHIP.

A cancer survivor who must periodically check their bloodwork will now be charged $30 or more for each test. Most of this diagnostic work has long been off-loaded from hospitals to private, for-profit clinics like LifeLab.

The Conservative government denies there have been any changes to OHIP, and the provincial website says that you cannot be charged for any “medically necessary” testing. But social media is full of reports from patients saying they are being charged, many including photos of their bills.

This a riff on the old corporate scam of negative billing. The for-profit cliniics are deciding what is “medically necessary”. Patients who know their rights, and have the strength can challenge the fees and probably win. But how many of this vulnerable group will have that knowledge and energy?

The government could put an end to this easily. That it continues means that Ford and his gang are giving tacit approval.

The Toronto Star recently ran an article listing health services slated for privatization – cancer screening, x-rays, colonoscopies and the like – and accusing the Ford Tories of being sneaky. Too bad they hid it behind their pay-wall.

Diabetics stuck with cuts

In a related story, people managing Type 1 diabetes still receive their life-sustaining insulin, but the disposable needles they need to inject the insulin are no longer covered by OHIP, following January 2021. Without the needle the insulin is useless.

It is like offering a starving person free soup but charging them for the spoon.

Diabetics may be required to inject themselves as many as 8 or 10 times a day. The price of a box of 100 needles varies – from about $50 to $80. That adds up to thousands of dollars per year for an essential product, difficult especially for people like seniors on fixed incomes.

Needles are sterile and supposed to be discarded after each use. Charging for needles will only lead to diabetics trying to reuse needles to afford their treatments. This will certainly lead to more complications.

As a diabetic friend pointed out, complications from the condition already lead to hospitalizations. More complications, more hospitalizations. This proves that privatization of healthcare doesn’t save money, it costs taxpayers more in the long run.

But privatization is never about saving money – it is always about making money for corporations.

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