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Aggressive medical billing techniques confusing Canadians

Friends of Medicare, OHC both report increase in calls and complaints.

David Eggen of Friends of Medicare, Albertaby Roger Collier, Canadian Medical Association Journal

October 21, 2008 — Medicare advocacy groups have in recent months noticed a sharp uptick in telephone calls from Canadians wondering why they are receiving so many bills from their family doctors. Letters inquiring if patients want to pay annual block fees for uninsured services are also appearing in mailboxes with greater frequency, further adding to people's confusion about just what is and isn't covered anymore under medicare.

"Here in Alberta, I'm getting calls quite regularly about clinics charging for sick notes and facility fees or bills to cover clerical things," says David Eggen, executive director of Friends of Medicare in Alberta. "It's been an ongoing story in Alberta since early this summer. ... Has the scope of insured fees narrowed so much that doctors have to make the extra up through other fees?"

A similar story has been unfolding in Ontario, where it's been estimated that more than 2 million letters asking for block fee payments have been sent to patients on behalf of about 1000 doctors.

"We've seen an increase in calls and complaints about it," says Natalie Mehra, director of the Ontario Health Coalition. "The fees are exorbitant in some areas. People are getting letters out of the blue and don't understand it." . .

To read further . .

Links and sources
  Aggressive billing techniques confusing Canadians, by Roger Collier, CMAJ, October 21, 2008

Posted: October 30, 2008

  Health care
  Public services
  Front lines
  Voices of privatization

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