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Quebec dropping accessory health-care fees by 2017
Quebec doctors will no longer be allowed to charge incidental fees associated with services covered by the provincial health insurance plan, Health Minister Gaetan Barrette announced Wednesday.
Patients will have to show their provincial medicare card to avoid the fees.
Currently, Quebec doctors often charge patients for various services, including pap smears, stitches and injections.
"If a 70-year-old patient visits an ophthalmologist, for instance, and needs eye drops, the drops won't be $200 or $100 or $1, they won't even be 50 cents," he said.
"There will be no fees."
Certain exceptions will apply: a maximum of $15 will be charged for a blood sample if it is taken in a private clinic or a specialized centre. For any other tissue sample, the fee will be capped at $5.
The new rules will come into effect "by early January," Barrette said, and doctors will be forced to absorb the costs.
Doctors charge patients, on average, roughly $83 million a year in incidental fees, while the actual market costs are closer to $13 million, he said.
Barrette said the current profit margins are "extremely high."
He added the government will not provide any money to doctors to compensate for the loss of revenue.
Barrette said doctors recently received a new contract which increases their salaries to the average of their counterparts elsewhere in Canada.
The minister added that all fees for non-insured procedures such as plastic surgery will remain.