Private surgeries and medical imaging are big business in BC. Over the last two decades, this for-profit sector has benefited from increased outsourcing of publicly funded procedures and unlawful patient extra-billing.
For-profit surgical and diagnostic imaging clinics in BC received $393 million in funding from health authority contracts between 2015/16 and 2020/21, despite the problems caused by this model of delivering health care. Research shows private clinics contribute to staffing shortages in the public health care system and fail to reduce wait times over the long term, and that private delivery is both more costly and is associated with poorer health outcomes.
Some private clinics in BC are also known to have engaged in extra-billing—an unlawful practice that allows wealthier patients to jump the queue by paying privately for medically necessary health care—yet they have continued to receive public funding.
This report by CCPA–BC research associate Andrew Longhurst analyzes the public funding these clinics receive, as well as the impact they have on BC's public health care system. Rather than fund private clinics, it concludes that BC can address wait times more efficiently within the public health care system by further increasing public surgical and diagnostic capacity, scaling up successful strategies like centralized waiting lists and pre-screening by teams of health care professionals, and reducing the need for hospital care with more emphasis on primary and community-based care (especially for seniors).