Calgary clinic to shift to $4800 members-only medical service
By Mikaela Delos Santos, Publishing Editor
Patients of Marda Loop Medical Clinic received an email on July 24, 2023, offering their membership-based medical service to begin Aug. 1, 2023. Patients who choose to pass on the offer are limited to one day per week of medical care, according to the email.
Annual pricing of the membership will rely on the number of membership holders and their dependents— a two-parent household that covers dependent children is priced at $4800, while a single parent household with dependent children is priced at $2400.
The email sent out by the clinic states that it does not provide medical care during statutory holidays and personal vacation time of the physician.
Luanne Metz, Alberta NDP Critic for Health, says that “I primarily fault the provincial government for pushing these doctors into a situation where this is how they have to pay the bills and I fault the province for allowing these membership fees to be charged”.
Metz also states her concern of how this could trigger a possible trend for healthcare providers.
“I am very concerned that if the province approves these fees, then this revenue stream will be irresistibly attractive to other clinics as well.”
On July 25, Premier Danielle Smith and Alberta Minister of Health Adrianna LaGrange sent out a joint statement, assuring that the membership-based medical service must comply with the Canada Health Act and the Alberta Health Care Insurance Act (AHCIA).
“We have directed Alberta Health to investigate this specific clinic to ensure compliance with all legislation. If any non-compliance with relevant legislation is found, we will take appropriate action.”
“Albertans do not pay out of pocket for insured health services such as seeing a family doctor or visiting a hospital – that will not change.” ends the statement.
NDP leader reacts
Opposition leader, Rachel Notley, says that the emergence of this issue is a broken promise by the Premier.
“On Tuesday [July 25], the government said they would investigate the one clinic in Calgary that’s been in the news. But that’s not good enough. We need a broad investigation into members-only medicine so we can put a stop to it.”
“Danielle Smith needs to stop these fees from coming into effect at the clinic in Calgary next week, launch a proper system-wide investigation and change the laws this fall to prevent these from happening at other clinics.” says Notley in a media statement released by the NDP.
UCP Public Health Care Guarantee
Last April 2023 during the provincial campaigns, Danielle Smith announced the United Conservative Public Health Care Guarantee.
“…Under the UCP’s Public Health Care Guarantee, we are committing to all Albertans that under no circumstances will any Albertan ever have to pay out-of-pocket to see their family doctor or to get the medical treatment they need. … under my leadership, [the UCP government] will not de-list any medical services or prescriptions now covered by Alberta Health Insurance. No exceptions” Smith says during a press conference.
“As we keep Alberta moving forward with our ambitious plan to improve healthcare outcomes, rest assured you will never use a credit card to pay for public health care service. You will only ever need your Alberta health card.” Smith adds.