See a specialist doctor in Quebec: 10 days private, 381 days public

See a specialist doctor in Quebec: 10 days private, 381 days public

At the Fleurimont Hospital of the University Hospital Center of Sherbrooke (CHUS), I waited a year to take a breath test […] And I wanted answers right awayexclaims Mrs. Tardif.

During our visit to the Laval clinic a few days ago, specialist doctor Jad Hobeika had good news for him.

: no asthma, no chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, no anemia, not unconditional”,”text”:”We eliminated many cases in your case: no asthma, no chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, no anemia, not unconditional “}}”>We eliminated many cases in your case: no asthma, no chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, no anemia, not deconditionedI explain.

Ms. Tardif drove more than seven hours and paid a few hundred dollars for her two appointments. She doesn’t regret her choice. I give more importance to my health than beforeconfesses Mrs. Tardif.

Patient Sophie Tardif meets with a pulmonologist from the Lacroix Medical Group.

Photo: Radio-Canada

A record 784,000 pending applications

Obtaining an appointment with a specialist doctor in the public network requires unprecedented patience in recent years.

According to the latest data from the Ministry of Health and Social Services (MSSS), in August there were 784,000 pending applications for all specialties, 60% more than in September 2020.

The average time to get an appointment went from 267 to 381 days.

In respirology alone, more than 27,000 applications were pending in Quebec with an average delay of 322 days (46 weeks).

A situation at odds with what the Laval clinic claims to experience.

Currently, I have a window of one to two weeks for a first datesays pulmonologist Jad Hobeika.

Fully private medicine is growing in Quebec. Exasperated patients pay out of pocket for the public’s absences. 555 doctors leave the public network, an increase of 35% in 5 years. And it’s not just cosmetic surgery anymore. Information from Davide Gentile.

Graduated in internal medicine and pulmonology since 2016, he joined the Lacroix Medical Group in January 2022 after spending a few years in the public sector, where he stood out as head of the pulmonology department at a CISSS in Greater Montreal.

To the public, we saw cancer patients and urgent cases in a few weeks. Otherwise, for the others, we were talking about months or years of waiting. […] I did not feel comfortable with the number of patients on the waiting listhe explains.

According to Dr. Hobeika, there is an accessibility problem in the system that the private sector allows me to complete a bit […] We are adding an offer for patients who can come see us without a referral, to get a second opinion, who have access to speed dating, get diagnostic tests quickly.

A medical specialist discusses with a journalist.

Jad Hobeika, Pulmonologist, Lacroix Medical Group

Photo: Radio-Canada / Davide Gentile

As the administrative director of the Lacroix Medical Group, Jean-Nicolas Chagnon, points out, the demand is there […] Growth is exponential every year.

People need services quickly and we provide accessibility, a complement to the public networkhe adds.

A mental health nurse practitioner joined the group earlier in the summer, along with a general practitioner.

Both appreciate the professional freedom that their employer gives them and also deconstruct the myth that the private sector is frequented only by rich people.

On the contrary, we see everything, even welfare patients who have saved up to come seeemphasizes Émie Gervais, a general practitioner in the private sector since she obtained her diploma six years ago.

After modest beginnings in the Quebec region, Lacroix Medical Group now has 90 physicians in ten clinics throughout Quebec, two operating rooms, a private laboratory, and nearly one hundred employees.

555 doctors billed without going through the RAMQ

There are more and more doctors who make the leap to the private sector in Quebec. Sometimes to practice there full time, if not alternating with his practice in the public network.

According to the most recent data from the Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec (RAMQ), the number of medical specialists who have made the leap to the private sector in the last five years has increased by 55%, to 178 doctors.

Dermatologists, plastic surgeons stand out, but also anesthesiologists, gynecologists, radiologists, psychiatrists and a handful of pulmonologists, such as Dr. Hobeika.

Family doctors are also more likely to make the leap into the private sector.

In the last five years, their number has increased by 27%, to 377 doctors.

In total, the percentage of doctors practicing outside health insurance is close to 3%, when in the mid-2010s it was less than 2%.

There are more than 21,000 doctors in Quebec.

A doctor who decides to work in the private sector as a doctor do not participate You must, in particular, inform the RAMQ, notify your patients that they must bear the fees in full, and post the fees in the waiting room of the office.

According to MSSS data, there are 22 specialized medical centers where non-participating physicians exclusively practice.


In March 2022, the group Médecins québécois pour le régime public published a press release recalling its concern about the ambitions of the private sector.

Every healthcare professional working in the private sector is one healthcare professional less in the public network. »

a quote from Quebec doctors for the public plan, March 2022

A doctor who works in both the public and private sectors can refer their own patients seen in the public sector to provide care in the private sector and increase their income. […] It raises important ethical questions through the blatant conflict of interest that it engenders.he wrote.

At the Montreal Economic Institute, on the other hand, we are promoting the liberalization of the health system, in particular through lifting the ban on duplicating health insurance as well as that of restrictions to the mixed practice of health professionals.

In 2005, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in the Chaoulli decision that when Quebecers do not have access to public health care within a reasonable time, they should be able to take out private insurance.

Subsequently, the Health Insurance Law was modified to allow private insurance, but only for knee, hip or cataract surgeries.

party positions

Since the beginning of the electoral campaign, most political parties have declared themselves in favor of increasing or reducing the outsourcing of surgeries to the private sector using the health card. A phenomenon that has reached around 15% of the volume since the start of the pandemic.

The Conservative Party of Quebec (PCQ), in particular, I would explore little by little the possibility of giving Quebecers the free choice of subscribing to complementary private insurance in order to obtain medical assistance already covered by the health insurance plan.

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