One has to question why

At least once a week, and sometimes more often, I hear this statement, “The doctors aren’t sure what’s happening but I need an MRI. They tell me it will be 20 weeks before I can get one.”
Understandably, emergency MRIs are happening faster than that but diagnostic MRIs in what is deemed a non-emergency are indeed taking months to happen.
And this story isn’t new. Years ago, a friend needed an MRI and was told it would be 17 weeks. He went to Calgary and for $1,000 he got an MRI in three days. Once he had the MRI report in his hand, it was matter of days and he got his treatment. The bottleneck wasn’t the treatment, it wasn’t the surgeon, it wasn’t the operating room. It was the lack of an MRI.
An MRI, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, isn’t all that complicated any more. Certainly the report isn’t complicated. The reports are printed out on a normal printer/copier and come in a standard copy paper format.
Whenever there is a discussion about health care in Manitoba, there’s a lot of talk about complying with the Canada Health Act. We are told that to comply with the act, things have to be done a certain way. For Manitoba to get federal funding, we have to comply with the act. Sound right doesn’t it. No, it’s actually quite wrong. All provinces and territories are under the Canada Health Act. Manitoba and Alberta are both under the Canada Health Act. So if one can’t buy an MRI privately in Manitoba, why can anyone, including a resident of Manitoba buy an MRI in Alberta? No government bureaucrat or politician seems to be able to answer that question.
A recent call to a small town in Minnesota revealed some interesting points. I talked to the administrator of a health clinic in northern Minnesota and asked if they did MRIs. Yes, they did. I asked how long it takes and he apologetically answered that as it was November and the “snowbirds” were getting their health records in order before departing for Texas or Florida, that there was a waiting period of about five days. Normally it would be three days. However, the administrator explained that they do about 15 MRIs a day and about eight are appointments and seven are for emergencies. The net effect was that you wait three days for an appointment and you don’t wait for an emergency. He also went on to explain that there were three or four other clinics with MRI capability within an hour’s drive of their particular location.
The bad news is that it was costly, but there certainly must be some kind of compromise available. Somewhere between waiting up to six months in Manitoba and not having to wait at all, a few hours drive away in Minnesota or 10 hours drive away in Alberta, there must be a method and a cost that could be reachable. There isn’t in Manitoba. Worse yet, no one is willing to challenge the government monopoly for an MRI clinic.
Given the political landscape in Manitoba, it doesn’t seem that anyone is about to challenge this ridiculous situation. Manitobans should be able to purchase an MRI if they want to have one. Not sure what it will take to change that but it does need to be addressed.

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