Doctor says patients may pick up tab for medicare caps
A Sackville doctor’s office may soon start charging patients if the province goes ahead with a plan to place a cap on the amount doctors can bill medicare for services.
In March, Finance Minister Blaine Higgs announced funding for doctors who bill medicare for each service will be cut by $18.8 million to $425 million and capped at that amount for two years.
For instance, rather than receiving the $37 negotiated fee for a patient visit, doctors would only get $32.
The cap will be calculated quarterly and if a doctor goes over, the amount will be clawed back in the next quarter.
Michael Milne, who manages his wife's family practice in Sackville, said he and his wife are considering asking patients to make up that shortfall.
"I expect that they will freak out but the problem is not the doctors causing the problem here, it's the government reneging on what they agreed to," he said.
Milne argues charging patients is the best way to keep doctors in their offices without resorting to any reductions in service.
"Somebody has to take responsibility for it," he said, "And if the government isn't going to take responsibility, then the patient has to take responsibility for themselves. There's no other solution."
Milne also said retirees, people with disabilities and students wouldn't be asked to pay. He expects in most cases the fees would be nominal for individuals, adding up to about $20 per year.