12/13/2012 06:34 EST | Updated 02/12/2013 05:12 EST

Patients Charged 'Abusive' Fees At Public Health Clinics


Quebec's health insurance board says reimbursements paid out for illegal fees charged by public health clinics are nearly four times higher than last year.

So far this year, the board has given back $526,686 to patients that were charged fees inflated by doctors.

Last year, the board gave back a total of $141,679 to people who complained.

John Bradley, an organizer at the Pointe-Saint-Charles community clinic said he has been hearing about similar issues on a daily basis and wants the province to crack down on doctors who overcharge their patients.

"I'm sure a lot of people have been to an ophthalmologist or to a dermatologist and have had to pay. We think if it's medically necessary, it should be covered by Medicare," he said.

According to a newsletter from the clinic, a woman was forced to pay $40 for eye drops. She received a $20 cheque from her ophthalmologist after complaining about the fees.

The health insurance board said it investigated about 20 clinics throughout the province over the past five years. The board billed the clinics that were accused of illegally charging patients.

The board says most services that are considered medically necessary and rendered by doctors are covered by the public health plan. However, procedures like CT scans and MRIs are only covered when performed in a hospital.