Province Freezes Doctor Wages

(TORONTO, ON) – Ontario is moving toward a real wage freeze for doctors in order to invest more precious health care dollars in community care for families and home care for its many seniors.

Patients will get better, frontline patient care including more community care nurses, expanded home care services for at least 90,000 seniors, and 1,100 more doctors as the province updates fees paid to physicians for services under the $11-billion Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP).

Ontario’s doctors are the best paid in the country, with the average doctor billing $385,000 and many specialists billing twice that much.

The government is updating and rebalancing OHIP fees to better reflect current medical practices and new technologies and to avoid double-payments. Best practices demonstrate that doctors are now often able to work more quickly and more effectively yet many fees have not changed to reflect these advances. Among the fee changes are:

  • The province currently spends $88 million on self-referrals – the practice of referring a patient back to a doctor’s own practice for an additional procedure and, consequently, additional billing. The payment for certain diagnostic tests such as X-rays and ultrasounds will be reduced by half when the same physician orders and performs the test.
  • New technology has greatly reduced the time needed for 250 diagnostic radiology tests including X-rays, CT/MRI scans and ultrasound. To reflect this, fees paid for these tests will be reduced by 11 per cent over four years.
  • New technology has reduced the time needed to perform cataract surgery from two hours to as little as 15 minutes. Fees paid to doctors for this procedure will be reduced from $441 to $397.75.
  • The time taken to perform eye injections for retinal diseases now takes five to 30 minutes, down from two hours a decade ago. The fee paid to doctors for this service will be reduced from $189 to $90 over four years.
  • Evidence shows that echocardiograms before routine non-cardiac surgery do not improve patient outcomes.  Doctors will perform fewer of these tests.
  • Best practices for CT scans and MRIs for lower back pain reveal that more targeted use of diagnostic tools helps to better support those patients with serious medical conditions such as infections or cancer and leads to earlier treatment for those patients with less serious symptoms by eliminating unnecessary diagnostic tests.
  • To ensure more timely access to care, a new fee will be added for doctors to consult with each other through secure email.

The combined changes, effective as of April 1, 2012, are expected to result in savings of $338.3 million in 2012-13, allowing the government to invest in more home care and expanded health care services.  The government will continue to negotiate with doctors to improve access to patient care, including same day/next day appointments and after-hours care to reduce pressure on emergency rooms.

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About the Author

Ian Shalapata
Ian Shalapata
Ian Shalapata is the owner and publisher of Square Media Group. He covers politics, the police beat, community events, the arts, sports, and everything in between. His imagery and freelance contributions have appeared in select publications and for organizations in Canada and the United States. Contact Ian with story ideas.

1 Comment on "Province Freezes Doctor Wages"

  1. blindsight |8 May 2012 at 12:26 |

    This really gives an uneasy feeling since this is a result of OHIP ( our insurance company ) laying out groundwork, that in the end may not benefit most of us as we get closer to our seniors years.One has to believe the medical industry will try to recoup lost revenue at the patient’s expense with additional fee’s as its a business, not a charity . .I wander what plan our government has to increase doctors when they have failed in the past ?

    It seems more a deal could not be struck and this is the fallout .

    “The OMA said it offered to freeze doctors’ fees for two years and find an additional $250 million in savings, but Matthews rejected the proposal. ”

    So ,in addition to loss income and frozen wages due we expect more services or less from our doctors ? There must be better intensives to increase our access to health care ,we just have not found the right way to go about it (thanks OHIP ).

    In the working world it seems many have to due more to attain the same amount of dollars one once earned these days..How will that work without no real laid out plan for relief for the medical professionals ? Sounds like an insurance company cutting costs at someone else ‘s expense ,doesn’t it ?

    But not to worry says ,OHIP .

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