Macdonald-Laurier Institute author Brett Belchetz appeared on 1310 News in Ottawa and CFAX 1070 in Victoria to discuss his recently-released Straight Talk Q&A on medicare abuses in Canada.

Belchetz, an emergency room physician working in Toronto, says he regularly deals with patients who are abusing the system to get what they want.

Often he will see someone with a cold who is hoping to receive a prescription for antibiotics. By the time they reach him in the emergency room, they have already been to a family doctor and a walk-in clinic.

That’s costing the system in a big way, he says. He estimates the cost of visiting a family doctor at around $30, while walking into an emergency room is around $300.

“What we’re seeing is people who are having four to five interactions with the health care system for a basic cold and each of those interactions gets progressively more expensive,” he told 1310 News.

He also sees people who visit the emergency room on a regular basis hoping to receive prescriptions for narcotics or multiple CT scans.

The problem, says Belchetz, is that there’s no disincentive for patients to continue interacting with the health system when they’re dissatisfied with the diagnosis.

He recommends introducing a user fee to discourage that sort of behaviour.

”At some point in time do we need to put some sort of curbs on patient behaviours?” he says.

Click here to listen to Belchetz’s interview on medicare abuses with 1310 News.

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