The Effect Of For-Profit Laboratories On The Accountability, Integration, And Cost Of Canadian Health Care Services

Ross Sutherland | Open Medicine | December 17, 2012

Abstract: Canadian public health care systems pay for-profit corporations to provide essential medical laboratory services. This practice is a useful window on the effects of using for-profit corporations to provide publicly funded services. Because private corporations are substantially protected by law from the public disclosure of “confidential business information,” increased for-profit delivery has led to decreased transparency, thus impeding informed debate on how laboratory services are delivered. Using for-profit laboratories increases the cost of diagnostic testing and hinders the integration of health care services more generally. Two useful steps toward ending the for-profit provision of laboratory services would be to stop fee-for-service funding and to integrate all laboratory work within public administrative structures.

Ross Sutherland is a registered nurse at the Kingston Community Health Centres, Kingston, Ontario and is the chair of the Ontario Health Coalition. He holds a Master’s degree in Political Economy from Carleton University and is the author of False Positive: Private Profit in Canada’s Medical Laboratories (Fernwood, 2011).

Funding: None.
Correspondence: [email protected]