The Canadian Supreme Court has ruled today that Quebec cannot prohibit individuals from privately paying for medical treatment that the public system also covers.
Presently, in Canada, while patients may privately pay for services not generally offered under Canada's medicare system, they are barred from paying for those services that it does offer.
This ban was challenged by a patient who had to wait a year for a hip replacement operation and by a doctor who wanted to charge for services in a private hospital.
The ruling directly applies only to Quebec's plan and not to Canada's as a whole. However, because other provinces have plans that resemble Quebec's, the ruling probably will have widespread impact.