Thanks to Alberta’s health system, seeinga doctor is almost always free. But notall healthcare is free. Prescription drugs,dental care or time off for treatment arejust a few of the additional costs peoplecan face.
Alberta has many programs to helpcover costs, especially for Albertanswith low income. Getting that help mostoften starts with patients sharing theirfinancial concerns with their healthcareproviders.
Many people feel overwhelmed at
having that conversation, and feelings
of shame and embarrassment keep
them silent, even if it ultimately makes
them ill. Healthcare providers across the
province are making such conversations
In nearly four decades of familypractice, Dr. Christine Sharek inEdmonton has often seen what happensto her patients’ health when theymust choose between food and rentor necessary care. She doesn’t hesitateto broach the subject of finances withpatients who she thinks are havingproblems.
“It’s about continuity of care. I have
patients I’ve known for years,” Sharek
says. “They’ll tell me about their own or
another family member’s struggles with
illness or unemployment. That makes a
discussion about finances or any other
potentially awkward conversation much
Another benefit for Sharek’s patients
is that she is one of some 3,800 Alberta
physicians who belong to 42 primary
care networks (PCNs). Like all PCNs,
Sharek’s Edmonton North Primary Care
Network is a team of healthcare