Complaints about wait times to see family physicians. Anger over government pay cuts for specialists. Specialists threatening to leave town. That was the news recently—for our friends to the north in Ontario, Canada.
Outliers was sitting in Toronto Pearson International Airport reading the Toronto Globe & Mail looking for news of our beloved Chicago White Sox. Instead, we found an article, editorial and editorial cartoon all focusing on disputes between the Ontario Medical Association and the provincial government, which is targeting healthcare expenses as it addresses a $15 billion (Canadian) deficit. Hmmm, that sounds vaguely familiar.
As in the U.S., the Ontario government was trying to improve primary-care services with a bump in pay. But the Globe & Mail cites a provincial auditor's report questioning the value of this investment.
The report noted that 60% of patients surveyed had to wait a week or longer to see their family physician after becoming ill. It also noted that, of the 8.6 million people enrolled in alternative funding arrangements called family health groups and family health organizations, 22% did not visit their doctors in fiscal 2009-10, but their physicians still collected $123 million for their “care” just the same.