Tag Archives: hospital parking

Tired of the high cost of hospital parking? Try not paying

If there is one universal issue that irks Ontario hospital patients, it’s hefty parking charges.

In many towns the only “pay” parking is at the hospital. Where there are commercial parking lots in the surrounding area, hospitals routinely charge twice the going rate or more.

This particularly limits those who have mobility issues and would have a hard time walking to the hospital from a nearby commercial lot. Transit is often not a reasonable alternative.

Now a cancer patient in St. John’s, Newfoundland has come up with his own solution – just don’t pay it.

According to CBC News, Tom Babcock refused to pay for parking at that city’s health sciences centre. When the Royal Newfoundland constabulary was called, they said they had no jurisdiction to write him a ticket on private property.

Babcock looks forward to his day in court when he will argue that the charges are a contravention of the Canada Health Act. Eastern Health, which manages the hospital, is refusing to take him there. There is no word on whether they will let him back in the lot.

“It’s patently, morally, ethically wrong to charge people to see their doctors,” Babcock told the CBC. “Especially people who have to be here five days a week paying $8, $10 a day to see their doctor, and they can’t afford it, and that’s wrong.”

Unfortunately for most Ontario hospitals, hospital parking is automated. You could be waiting a long time for that gate to lift by refusing to pay. Unlike Newfoundland, we’ve eliminated most of the jobs in the exit booths of our parking lots.

All the fuss about parking-centered care

Patient-centered care is the latest catch phrase being used by health care administrators, politicians and policy wonks.

It has become so frequent in its use it has actually supplanted the mandatory use of “evidence-based decision making” as this year’s mantra.

Despite the mantra, most of us would be hard pressed to point to a specific initiative that trumps the patients’ interest over that of the interests of institutional health care providers.

It is therefore interesting to see the response to the Canadian Medical Association Journal’s (CMAJ) recent editorial that calls upon hospitals to abandon 1 per cent of their revenue to make parking free.

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Ontario needs to regulate cost of accessing personal health records — Cavoukian

Ann Cavoukian, Ontario’s Information and Privacy Commissioner has called upon the province to regulate the amount doctors and other health care providers can charge to provide patients with copies of their health records.

Cavoukian writes that “access to one’s own records of personal information is a cornerstone of fair information practices and privacy legislation. In the context of health care, the right of access enables individuals to determine what shall or shall not be done with their own bodies, to exercise control over the collection, use or disclosure of their own personal health information, and to require the correction or amendment of that information.”

While the McGuinty government did draft a regulation around such fees in 2006, it was never passed.

A patient complained to the Commission about a $125 fee charged by her physician for access to 34 pages of her records. They found $125 to exceed “reasonable cost recovery” and ordered the physician to reduce the fee to $33.50. The Commission arrived at the fee by suggesting $30 be charged for the first 20 pages to cover time for the doctor to review the information, and 25 cents per page be charged beyond that.

Health Minister Deb Matthews said she didn’t believe the problem to be widespread, but said she would talk to the Ontario Medical Association about it.

Creeping charges related to access to health care is becoming a growing issue.

A few years ago Vector conducted a poll in which the majority agreed that the high cost of parking at hospitals constituted a health care user fee.

If you want to find the most expensive place to park in any town or city, it’s usually the hospital. We have seen ridiculous attempts by hospitals to protect that revenue such as erecting fences to prevent people from walking from nearby free parking lots. Municipalities have been forced to limit parking in nearby neighborhoods as patients and their families try and avoid the high fees.

The high parking fees have also been used as an argument by some hospitals for divesting services elsewhere in the community.