Quebec to finance ultrasounds in private clinics

Ultrasounds in Quebec private clinics will be covered by the province as of November.

Gaétan Barrette said it is the first in a series of health-care announcements

Ultrasound exams will now be covered after a deal was struck with Quebec's medical specialists.

Ultrasounds carried out in private radiology clinics will be covered by the provincial public health insurance agency (RAMQ) starting in November, the Quebec government announced Wednesday. 

Health Minister Gaétan Barrette said ultrasounds are in high demand across the province, second only to blood tests. There are currently over 110,000 patients waiting for an ultrasound, according to Barrette.

"Everybody in Quebec listening to us right now, including professionals, know there are problems of accessibility," Barrette said. 

The exams will now be covered after a deal was struck with Quebec's medical specialists. Barrette claimed this was only possible due to Bill 20, part of the province's controversial overhaul of the health-care system.

"This kind of access is substantial progress for Quebec."

The Fédération des Médecins Spécialistes du Québec praised the decision, but said the province should have instead put that funding and resources into hospitals.

"The presence of a radiologist would strengthen medical teams at the same time as improving the speed of diagnostics in emergencies at a high volume at night," the FMSQ said in a statement.

"A solution that would have been win-win for the medical staff and the patients."

More announcements

Barette promised Wednesday's would be the first of several announcements over the next few months about what is covered by public health care.

Gaétan Barrette said the deal was only possible due to the Liberals' health-care reform. (CBC)

"We have said that we would cover through the public health-care system all three exams: ultrasounds, [CT scans] and MRIs. And that will be the case," Barrette said.

Starting in November, the fee for eye drops used in glaucoma eye exams will also be covered by RAMQ.