Media Releases

Clarification: Is private sector health care more expensive?

  • A comparison of costs published in certain major newspapers omits the costs of equipment and rooms in the public sector, but includes them in private sector fees.

Montreal, April 24, 2023 – The data published by the Institut de recherche et d’informations socioéconomiques (IRIS) this morning paint a misleading picture of the costs of health care in Quebec, states the senior director of communications at the Montreal Economic Institute (MEI).

“Of course, when you remove the costs of operating rooms and equipment from the public sector, but include them for the private sector, then the private sector seems more expensive,” says Renaud Brossard, senior director of communications at the MEI. “It’s not by comparing apples and oranges, as IRIS has done in this case, that we will get a true picture of costs.”

Indeed, the documents published by IRIS comparing health care costs include equipment and capital costs for the private sector, but omit them for the public sector. An operating room costs several millions of dollars in terms of construction and equipment acquisition in Quebec.

For example, the renovation of the two rooms of the Hôpital de Jonquière’s external operating theatre cost $2.1 million in 2022. The construction of a new two-room operating theatre in Sillery was estimated to cost $5 million that same year.

“The data we were shown do not allow us to determine which kind of facility is less expensive,” explains Mr. Brossard. “What is clear, however, is that without these independent operating rooms, the hospital network could not handle the volume, and waiting lists would get even longer.”

The Institute notes that 20% of surgeries in Quebec are now carried out in specialized medical centres, which are independently owned but reimbursed by the RAMQ.

“It is also interesting to see that certain centres offer better prices than others. In a system where there is competition, this can lead to some interesting optimizations,” concludes Mr. Brossard.

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The MEI is an independent public policy think tank with offices in Montreal and Calgary. Through its publications, media appearances, and advisory services to policy-makers, the MEI stimulates public policy debate and reforms based on sound economics and entrepreneurship. 

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Interview requests
Renaud Brossard
Senior Director, Communications
Cell: 514-743-2883

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