Quebec students pay for health
By Karena Walter
Western students from Quebec are crying ce n'est pas juste since they must now pay for treatment at student health services.
Rob Silver, a third-year political science student, said he went to health services before Christmas and was told Quebec health care cards are no longer being accepted.
Tom Macfarlane, director of SHS, said the decision not to accept Quebec health cards occurred two to three months ago. "It was very reluctantly that we made the change," he said.
Billings were not being paid in adequate time by the Quebec government and sometimes they only paid 50 per cent of the bill rate because their fee schedule is considerably less than Ontario's, he said.
Macfarlane added Quebec opted out of a reciprocal billing plan which respects the fee schedules of other provinces. For instance, if a Western student is from British Columbia, their health services would be charged to B.C. based on Ontario's fees, regardless of whether health care services are more or less expensive than in that province.
"I realize it's a damn nuisance for these guys. We cannot afford to provide this service for free," Macfarlane said.
Vanessa Moretti-Montpetit, a first-year student, was told she would have to pay for service yet she could not opt out of fees. "We're not getting the health plan basically but we still have to pay for it."
Currently, full-time students pay a $38.95 ancillary fee for SHS. The fee is separate from the student health plan which also covers drugs, accidental benefits and emergency coverage.
Quebec students now pay for health services up front. They are given a form to recover their money from the Quebec plan and should be reimbursed for the full amount, Macfarlane said.
"What's to say students will ever see the money?" Silver asked. If Western, a large institution, cannot get the money back how is a student supposed to, he added.
Macfarlane said individuals are often more successful in retrieving money than institutions.
"Their solution to the problem was to charge Quebec students whatever it costs," Silver said. "It just seems like it's another excuse of the university putting profit ahead of the students."
Quebec will not pay for students using private laboratory services when they are out-of-province they are supposed to go to hospitals for those services. However, Western's SHS have treated those students and tried to absorb the cost pro-bono, Macfarlane said. "The last thing a sick student needs is to do is walk over to the hospital."