Hospitals: equalities in billing for rooms
Québec City, April 18, 2018 – In a report released today, the Québec Ombudsman criticized the lack of consistency in the billing for hospital rooms. It notes that people are not properly informed about the choices that are really available (ward, semi-private room with two beds, private room). In addition, the fees for the same kind of room are not invoiced the same way from one hospital to another, and even from one person to another within the same hospital.
"As it now stands, someone who asked for a ward and another who chose a private room both end up in a private room because, in fact, there is no ward on the unit. However, only the second patient has to pay for the private room because he or she asked to have that kind of room," explained Ombudsperson Marie Rinfret, who considers such a situation unfair.
The Regulation respecting the application of the Hospital Insurance Act provides that wards are the only options that are free of charge and that 20% of every hospital must consist of wards. Now, hospitals contain fewer and fewer wards, which is good because it limits the spread of infectious diseases. The two new hospitals built in Montréal (CHUM and Glen site of MUHC) only have private rooms, and there are no fees for them. This new context means that the Regulation is not in sync with today’s realities.
The recommendations by the Québec Ombudsman to the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux are aimed in particular at amending the Regulation, and, meanwhile, at pushing for directives to the institutions so that:
- complete and adequate information is given to users in order for them to make an informed decision;
- institutions stop billing for rooms that correspond to the basic type of room offered in the unit where the person is hospitalized;
- institutions do not bill for rooms that are medically necessary.
The Québec Ombudsman is an impartial and independent institution tasked to ensure that citizens’ rights are upheld in their dealings with public services. In the area of health and social services, it acts as a second level of recourse after users have contacted the service quality and complaints commissioner of the institution concerned. It acts at the first level in cases of reports or whistleblowing.
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