The government site Rendez-vous santé Québec (RVSQ) directs patients to private medical clinics that offer services not reimbursed by the Régie de l’assurance santé du Québec (RAMQ). A family from Montreal learned this the hard way, and denounces this promotion of the private sector made through a public network platform.
About three weeks ago, Philippe Tessier tried to obtain a medical consultation for his teenager, who had a health problem that did not require a visit to the emergency room. On RVSQ, no time slot was available for her boy’s family doctor, as she was on maternity leave. No appointment is possible either within the family medicine group or even at a nearby clinic, according to RVSQ.
The government site then directed the father to the page “Find out the clinics that offer medical consultations the same day or in the following days”. A search using the postal code of the family home indicated a clinic nearby: the Canada College Health Center. His 15-year-old son went there on foot.
“Once my son got there, we informed him that it was $225 to see a doctor,” says Philippe Tessier. To this amount was added a file opening fee of $50. Faced with these costs, the teenager turned back.
This is unacceptable. [RVSQ], it is a government site. It has no business promoting a private clinic.
” This is unacceptable. [RVSQ], it is a government site. It has no business promoting a private clinic,” maintains Mr. Tessier. The resident of the Little Burgundy district of Montreal said he reported this situation the same day to the government, as well as to his local provincial deputy, Guillaume Cliche-Rivard, of Québec solidaire.
Many private clinics
By doing some research on RVSQ, The duty was able to note that many private clinics offering services not reimbursed by the public plan are displayed on the page “Know the clinics that offer medical consultations the same day or in the following days”.
On the Canada College Health Center sheet, it is indicated that “medical consultations on the same day or in the following days” are “for all”. “Fees may be charged” for other services, such as family medicine, it is also written.
Contacted by The duty, the Center explained that it offers private and public services, but not on the same days. The coordinator of the medical clinic, Darah Lecomples, specifies that the schedule of consultations — whether paid or reimbursed by the public plan — depends on the availability of doctors, and whether or not they are RAMQ participants.
Philippe Tessier’s son therefore appeared on site one day when only private care was provided. “If it had been a RAMQ day, we would have seen him here without any problem,” assures M.me Lecomples.
Launched in November 2022, the College Canada Health Center says it wants to see more patients from the public network, particularly from the Front Line Access Desk. According to Darah Lecomples, discussions on this subject with Quebec are dragging on. And her clinic intends, she adds, to build a second facility to separate private services from those paid for by the public plan.
Questioned on this subject, the Ministry of Health and Social Services (MSSS) responded that “all appointments granted via the RVSQ platform are covered by RAMQ”. The page to which Mr. Tessier was referred is a directory of health and social services resources “which brings together, for the needs of health professionals, all the resources that must be available, public or private, in the network,” we explain.
“The MSSS is currently evaluating the modifications that would be necessary to make on the portal page in order to better indicate the services that are offered and covered by the RAMQ for Quebecers,” we wrote in an email. If changes are necessary, we will make them. »
The Médecins québécois pour le regime public group considers it “unacceptable” that the government “uses public platforms” like RVSQ “to promote for-profit clinics”. “The patient should never be sent to the private sector by the government,” specifies its spokesperson, the DD Camille Pelletier Vernooy. It creates a false sense of security, when access to health is a free universal right. And that is protected by the Canada Health Act. »
The way the College Canada Health Center operates also sows confusion, adds the DD Pelletier Vernooy. “The health system is already very complex. If, on top of that, the patient has the responsibility to see which days the RAMQ will cover the services and which days the RAMQ will not cover them, for us, that adds another obstacle. »
For the CEO of the Council for the Protection of the Sick, Mr.e Paul G. Brunet, Quebec makes “misrepresentation” by directing patients to a clinic offering private and public services. “Private days, RAMQ days, the Quebec site does not give that difference, it does not make a distinction. It confuses people and frustrates them. »
When government sites send patients to private paying services, I think the user should send the bill to RAMQ and get reimbursed
Solidarity MP Vincent Marissal maintains that his party is receiving more and more calls from citizens who are oriented towards the private sector due to lack of availability in the public network. “We have had recent cases at 811 [la ligne téléphonique répondant notamment aux appels du Guichet d’accès à la première ligne] of people who were told: “Well, there is a private clinic not far from your home.” »
The health spokesperson for the second opposition group believes that the state should not promote clinics where patients have to pay. “When government sites send patients to private paying services, I think the user should send the bill to RAMQ and get reimbursed. »