Government can't break down costs of health tests, procedures

A request by CBC News for an itemized list of what Newfoundland and Labrador spends on various procedures and tests has been turned down, with the provincial government saying it does not have such information.
Itemized list not available on tests and procedures, Amy Stoodley reports 2:28

A request by CBC News for an itemized list of what Newfoundland and Labrador spends on various procedures and tests has been turned down, with the provincial government saying it does not have such information. 

CBC decided to look at the largely hidden costs of medical care in the wake of this week's report about a St. John's couple who received bills of more than $7,000 following the birth of their baby boy. Matthew and Aduei LeRiche were given the bill because Aduei does not have Canadian residency. 

A request for a breakdown of costs for X-rays and CT scans resulted in the Department of Health and Community Services reporting that it does not keep track of costs that way. 

A similar request to Eastern Health was met with the same response. 

Dr. Patrick O'Shea says even many doctors do not know the actual costs of various tests and procedures. (CBC)
Instead, CBC was directed to a database managed by the Canadian Institute for Health Information, which gives national average costs of disease and injury treatment, from migraines to hip replacement. 

Dr. Patrick O'Shea, a general practitioner who has long been active with the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association, said patients are typically shocked when they find out what the services they receive actually cost. 

"I think also a lot of physicians aren't aware because we don't bill patients directly for those costs," O'Shea told CBC News. 

"The joy of our Canadian system is we don't have to be worrying about the money. We know our tax dollars and our government are paying for that."

The NLMA is backing a national initiative called Choosing Wisely Canada, which aims to educate both doctors and patients about unnecessary tests and treatments. 

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