You’re more likely to get a doctor’s appointment in Canada if you’re rich than if you’re poor, even though the government pays the bills, according to a new study.
In the spring and summer of 2011, a team of Canadian researchers posing as prospective patients cold-called 375 doctors offices in Ontario to schedule a check-up.
The researchers posed in each call as one of four types: a wealthy banker in good health, a wealthy banker with diabetes and back problems, a welfare recipient in good health, or a welfare recipient with diabetes and back problems.
Overall, the callers were 50% more likely to be offered an appointment when they posed as bankers than when they posed as welfare recipients.
Canada has universal healthcare, and the researchers said they studied Ontario in particular because it has a single public insurer, and patient pay no copayments or deductibles for visiting a physician. In theory, therefore, general physicians in Ontario and their staffs would have no financial incentive to choose a rich patient over a poor one, according to the study, conducted by doctors at the Keenan Research Centre at the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto.
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