Patients now have the option to choose to directly pay a private facility for a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan in Saskatchewan.
Facilities that conduct a private MRI scan must also provide a second scan at no charge to an individual who is on the public waiting list.
A physician referral is still required to obtain an MRI, to ensure any scan requested is medically necessary. Once that referral is obtained, a person wishing to pay takes that referral directly to a licensed private facility to book an appointment.
After completing a private MRI scan, the private facility will provide a second scan of similar complexity within 14 days to a patient on the public wait list, at no charge to that second patient.
Right now Open Skies in Regina is the only private MRI facility in operation. Mayfair Diagnostics in Regina also has a licence but has no timetable for offering an MRI service.
Health Minister Dustin Duncan says he wants people on the public wait-lists to receive some benefit from a service patients are already utilizing at private clinics elsewhere.
“People already today are going to Minot, they’re going to the Mayo Clinic or they’re going to Calgary”, he told reporters at the legislature. “A practice that is already happening in Saskatchewan, as a public system, we would get no benefit.”
Duncan argued at least this way someone on a wait-list receives some benefit.
“Somebody that is sitting on the public list, they’re going to see the specialist sooner as well because we’re going to get a scan off the public list, at no cost to the public expense.”
The estimated number of patients in the province waiting for MRIs, as of Nov. 30, 2015 was 6,649.
The NDP wants shorter wait times, but disagrees that the private system is the way to achieve that.