Alberta's government wants to make it easierto opt out of medicare withlegislation that will allow people to opt out of the public health-care system for up to three years at a time.

The opposition partiessaid the changes show PremierEd Stelmach's government'spriorities are misplaced, but a spokesman for Alberta Health said itwill just make it easier for Albertans who opt out by dropping the annual filing that's required.

"This is a housekeeping thing to reduce paperwork and to reduce the amount of forms that need to be filled out," said Howard May.

In Alberta, 255 people opted out of medicare this year. Opting out means you don't have to pay health-care premiums in Alberta, but that you will pay the full cost of any health service.

Bill 5, introduced in the legislature on Thursday, will not only make it possible for Albertans to exempt themselves from medicare once every three years, but allow them to opt out at any point in the year.

Right now, those who want to opt out must fill out a form just before July 1 and must fill out that form again every year to stay outside the system.

'Seems like a very odd choice to me'

Opposition health critics want to know what else is behind the change.

NDP critic Ray Martin says only truly wealthy people can afford to opt out.

"Are they creating again, a demand, making it easier,more people to opt out so that we can have more private clinics? In the worst case scenario, that's what could happen from this move."

Liberal health critic Laurie Blakeman calls it odd that Alberta Healthhas so few legislative ideas that cutting paperwork for 255 people is a top government priority.

"Considering all of the urgent issues we're facing right now in health care, to be bringing forward an omnibus bill in which one of the sections is to enable people to opt out of health care for longer seems like a very odd choice to me."