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Albertans’ Views on Private MRIs

Posted October 18th, 2013 in Alberta Politics, Calgary Herald, Healthcare, News by Marc Henry

When it comes to private MRI clinics, Albertans seem to hold a “let sleeping dogs lie” view.  According to our September Eye on Alberta report, nearly 6-in-10 (59%) Albertans approve of the current “hybrid” system for MRI diagnostics, compared to 1/3 (33%) that disapprove.


The issue briefly surfaced in late August, when the Alberta College of Physicians and Surgeons proposed banning private MRI clinics as a measure to prevent queue-jumping, and conceptually, many Albertan’s agree with the intent.  50% of those interviewed agree with the notion that diagnostics should be totally publicly funded in order to prevent paying patients from receiving faster treatment (compared to 38% who disagree with the CPSA position).


But in practical terms, most Albertans feel that banning private MRIs would be equivalent to cutting off one’s nose to spite the face.  Over 70% of survey respondents believe that a wait of roughly 3-4 weeks would be “reasonable” for non-emergency/non-critical MRIs, but the typical wait is somewhere between 4 – 10 times that.


Almost ½ (49%) believe that banning private MRIs would make the delivery of health care in Alberta worse (19% saying “much worse”), compared to only 18% who feel it would be better, 18% who say it would have no impact (another 16% are unsure).


In a straight trade-off, Albertans favour keeping private MRIs on a 2:1 basis.  50% say that “Private MRIs should be allowed even if that means some people will get faster treatment as a result”, while 26% say “Private MRIs should not be allowed, even if that means some people will get slower treatment as a result”.  Another ¼ are unsure.


To see excerpts of our September poll, click the link: EOA Sept 2013 MRI