The Journal de Montreal is reporting the latest example of a two-tiered system when it comes to bariatric surgery at Sacré Coeur Hospital.
You can either languish on a waiting list in the public system for up to three years or get on a list to see the same doctors in the private system and pay a lot of money for the surgery in a month's time.
The report says three doctors offer their services at the hospital and at the Rockland MD clinic, where the bariatric surgery can cost over 20,000$.
Jennifer Schultz runs a support group for people waiting for surgery. Shchultz said she's surprised the doctors can perform the surgery in both the private and public sectors. She said websites offering the information should offer more options.
"Before going private they should tell you you can go try any number of hospitals in Quebec where the waiting list is less long," Schultz told CJAD 800 News.
Sacré Coeur Hospital says in a statement it specializes in this type of surgery and refers its less complicated cases to about a dozen other centers in Quebec. It also says the demand for this surgery has exploded over the past couple of years: over 1400 performed in the province each year, 600 of them at the hospital. It would not do interviews on the matter.
Schultz said the waiting can be difficult for people who suffer from various ailments linked to their obesity.
"It's a time for them to reflect, and to get prepared and to see a psychologist because it's not an easy thing to go through," Schultz said.
"I wish that everyone had access to the surgery in a reasonable amount of time under the medicare system, that would be the ideal too."
According to the report, the doctors' offices for both public and private sector patients are located in the same building as the clinic. They're paid by Quebec's health insurance board either way. The costs of the surgery at the clinic are supposed to go towards overhead such as staff salaries, operating rooms and equipment. The health insurance board has deemed these fees illegal.