Today, Health Minister Dustin Duncan introduced The Patient Choice Medical Imaging Act, which will give Saskatchewan residents the option to privately pay for a CT scan. This follows the launch of private-pay MRI services in February 2016.
“We made a commitment in the election campaign to expand private-pay diagnostics to CT scans,” Duncan said. “With the introduction of this legislation, patients will soon have more choice in how they receive diagnostics, while at the same time increasing public capacity and reducing wait times to CT services.”
Following passage of the Act and the establishment of regulations, private-pay CT services will be offered in the same way as private-pay MRI services. Licensed facilities that conduct a privately paid CT scan will be required to provide a second scan of similar complexity to an individual on the public wait list, at no cost to that individual or the health system. A physician referral will still be required to obtain a CT scan.
“The process to receive a private CT scan will be the same as a private MRI,” Duncan said. “Essentially, for every patient who receives a private MRI or CT scan, two patients will be removed from the public list – the patient who paid for the scan as well as the second patient on the public wait list.”
There are two licensed facilities in Regina that have been providing private-pay MRI services since it was launched on February 29, 2016. During the first two months, 258 patients received a private MRI scan (77 patients paid for a scan, and organizations, such as the Saskatchewan Roughriders or Workers’ Compensation Board, have purchased 181 scans). Under the “two for one” option, 258 patients from the public system will also receive an MRI scan at no additional cost.
From the end of March 31, 2015 to February 29, 2016, the number of patients waiting for CT services in Saskatchewan increased from 2,954 to 3,823. Between December 2015 and February 2016, the average wait time for a non-urgent CT scan was 119 days province-wide.