Sat. Feb 24th, 2024

Quebec has still not decided on the possibility of offering free births to hundreds of migrants without insurance each year. The Régie de l'assurance santé du Québec (RAMQ) had proposed various options for this purpose in 2022. A bill that could exceed $20 million.

A debt of $21,000 for giving birth without insurance in Quebec

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Arriving from Cameroon in 2023, Augustine Messa Taga will have to go into debt when she gives birth in a few months.

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When she gave birth in a Montreal hospital in 2022, Fatoumata (fictitious first name) organized herself to limit the bill.

Without insurance or a Quebec health insurance card, she wanted to avoid costs of around $5,000 per night of hospitalization.

So I stayed [day and night] in the nursery on a chair, says this mother in her thirties. A bed will finally be arranged for him next to the baby.

A few months earlier, this permanent resident had contacted the hospital.

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Fatoumata (fictitious first name) explains that she has made financial arrangements with a Montreal hospital to reimburse the costs of giving birth to her fifth child in 2022.

For women who have not had follow-up at the hospital, we ask for a deposit for doctors' fees of around $3,500, she explains.

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In total, she and her partner finally received a bill for $7,000 after giving birth.

Sometimes I pay them $150, $200, $1000, it depends. […] I have about $1,500 left to pay, she said.

Getting pregnant here without health insurance is really stressful.

A quote from Fatoumata (fictitious first name)

Davide Gentile's report

The case of Fatoumata is not unique.< /p>

According to a compilation of documents obtained by Radio-Canada from half of health establishments, in 2023, around 900 uninsured migrants gave birth in hospitals in Quebec, especially in the Montreal region.

During our visit to the Saint-Laurent Social Pediatric Center, located in Montreal, Augustine Messa Taga was on site to obtain medical monitoring in preparation for her planned delivery in a few weeks. This service is provided free of charge.

Arriving last June from Cameroon, the latter learned that the total bill for the birth at the hospital could amount to more than 21 $000.

It's not easy. Of course it's stressful, because it's huge […] and I don't have that money yet, she says.

The amount includes a surcharge of 200% of the overall delivery costs to compensate, we explain to the Minister of Health, the costs of the real estate component not included in the daily price.

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Gwen Fritiau, worker at the Maison des famille de Saint- Laurent.

As the speaker Gwen Fritiau from the Maison des famille de Saint-Laurent points out, I have the impression that it is always a surprise for them, in the sense that we sold them dream by telling them, in their country in West Africa or North Africa, that they only had to go to Canada, apply employment, an application for a work permit and that very easily they would have a work permit which will offer them health coverage.

In 2024, in a developed country like Canada, asking a woman to paying childbirth costs is not normal and it's even dangerous.

A quote from Gwen Fritiau, speaker at the Maison des famille de Saint-Laurent

The Doctors of the World group, which has campaigned for years for free reproductive health care for all women, regardless of their immigration status, shares this opinion.

The reason why we refuse is ignorance of scientific data and, on the other hand, prejudices, political ulterior motives, where we think that by making life difficult for them, we will have problems. political benefits, but it is a bad calculation, says Dr. Michel Welt, obstetrician-gynecologist and member of the board of directors of Médecins du Monde.

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Dr Michel Welt, obstetrician gynecologist and member of the board of directors of Médecins du Monde. social pediatrics of Saint-Laurent, Dr Welt notes the enormous increase in temporary workers, foreign students, all these people who do not have a permanent or guaranteed status, […] who do not x27;do not have medical coverage, particularly for pregnancy.

Generally, asylum seekers or refugees are covered by the Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP).

At the Ministry of Health, we remind you that an interministerial committee has been examining the file since the summer of 2022.

< p class="Text-sc-2357a233-1 imohSo">Work is underway to evaluate what solutions to put forward and allow the most vulnerable women to benefit from free health care related to the monitoring of their pregnancy and childbirth.

A quote from Noémie Vanheuverzwijn , spokesperson at the Ministry of Health.

The interministerial committee has some scenarios prepared by the RAMQ.

The most generous scenario would allow more than 2,000 women to obtain free of charge any service related to pregnancy monitoring, childbirth and postpartum care, as well as related medications. This option is valued at more than $20 million.

At the midpoint, eliminating the 200% surcharge would ease the financial burden, but does not solve the problem for women most vulnerable who avoid consulting during pregnancy.

According to the RAMQ, the status quo would have the advantage, in particular, of limiting obstetric tourism, but it would have the risk of maintaining pressure (media and other) to move this issue forward, […] the risk of compromising the health of women in vulnerable situations […] and does not resolve the problem of unpaid obstetric fees.

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The RAMQ manages, among other things, the eligibility of people for Quebec health insurance and drug insurance plans.

According to our information, health establishments forgo millions of dollars each year due to migrants with precarious status unable to pay for health care.

Several groups consulted expected a government announcement last fall. As Dr. Michel Welt of Médecins du monde points out, we hope that Quebec will decide as quickly as possible.

In 2021, Quebec adopted a bill with the main objective of making certain children whose parents have a precarious migration status eligible for the health insurance plan and the general drug insurance plan.

In the office of Minister Christian Dubé, we recall “that our government took a major step in June 2021 by making children born or not in Quebec eligible for RAMQ, regardless of their immigration status. 'immigration of their parents'.

The work is currently continuing on the ministry side and we will await the conclusions.

A quote from The Office of the Minister of Health

For the spokesperson for the official opposition on health, André Fortin, we must do better than the status quo at the moment […] We have a duty to come up with a solution quickly.

These women find themselves under immense stress knowing that they will end up with monster bills when they leave the hospital with their child, says the Liberal MP.

For MP Vincent Marissal of Québec solidaire, we must cover these women because it is a humanitarian reason.

We regularly have [at the constituency office] people […] who are not covered, who end up with a bill and who have to intervene with the RAMQ and, most often, the minister will finish by wiping the slate in a discretionary manner, he says.

At the Parti Québécois, MP Joël Arseneau believes that the government must continue the work and ensure that a solution can be put in place implemented. Since the RAMQ has different hypotheses, I think the government must take action quickly, he declares.

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