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Extra billing for insured health services made illegal in B.C.

MRI machine. Shutterstock Doctors billing patients for health-care services outside the public system will face sanctions in British Columbia.
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 MRI machine. ShutterstockMRI machine. Shutterstock

Doctors billing patients for health-care services outside the public system will face sanctions in British Columbia.

Health Minister Adrian Dix says doctors and other health-care providers who break the law by billing patients against the principles of medicare will face tough consequences, including fines and refunding patients.

The fines will start at $10,000 for a first offence, $20,000 for a second infraction and the possibility of being dropped from the Medical Services Plan.

The changes will take place in October and affect 56 private surgical clinics and 17 private MRI facilities in the province.

Based on audits, Health Canada estimated that extra billing in B.C. came to $15.9 million in 2015-16 and the federal government reduced funding to the province by the same amount this year.

Dix says the government is correcting the previous government's failure to act on contraventions of provincial and federal laws governing medicare.