The government of BC has decided to enforce legislation that bans extra billing. What does that edict mean? The federal and provincial government mandates that as medical practitioners, we cannot charge patients more for a medically necessary service than would be paid by MSP. Billing MSP at the current rate and then charging patients an extra amount is double billing and has always been illegal. However, private clinics and imaging centers have been operating for years in BC. In this case, a patient is charged whatever fee the private center charges, but no billing to MSP takes place. This approach has allowed some patients to expedite their assessment or treatment. The government buys medical services from some private clinics for WorkSafe BC, for example, albeit outside the MSP budget.
Clearly any emergency medical need in BC is dealt with immediately. Here we are talking about people with non-emergent problems who don’t want to wait for public resources.
Some argue that allowing patients who wish to pay privately for services may free up public resources for those who do not. Others argue that this loophole allows government to under-fund resources, or that it means some patients who can afford it may get faster care than others. If the ban on extra billing stops any private care, what happens to wait lists? I think the government had better be ready to handle the outcry as public waitlists climb when private clinics cannot assess or treat anyone. What do you think? Please let me know.
The Specialist Services Committee (SSC) offers funding of up to $10,000 per physician in leadership training scholarships to cover tuition and travel costs. Certificants or fellows of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada practicing in BC can be funded for programs offered by recognized academic institutions, professional bodies and/or quality improvement organizations, with preference given to programs reflecting Canadian context.
The Specialists of BC and the Specialist Services Committee are in discussions with the Ministry of Health to co-sponsor a “Specialists in BC Symposium” early in the new year. This gathering could be an opportunity to:
• clarify what and how specialists practice in BC
• share telehealth experiences by BC specialists
• define a role for physician extenders
• identify which specialists could work with our GP colleagues in the Patient Medical Home model
• investigate whether there are areas where we could work more efficiently, without asking for more money
• look at recruitment and retention issues and fixes for BC specialists
• what is working in other jurisdictions
There may be many more ideas worthy of inclusion in our symposium. Feel free to share things you would like to discuss!
The SSC created the telephone consult codes (10001 etc) which have been really great for encouraging communication between us and our GP colleagues. Do you think the telephone codes and other SSC fees need more work? Are you okay with the restrictions that were placed to contain costs, or do we need to prioritize removing or changing them? What are other ways we could utilize funding to improve care? I’d like to hear from you!
Be part of the Specialists of BC for 2018! Go to https://www.doctorsofbc.ca/
account/dues to get your $100 discount on dues. The reduction will be applied automatically when you select your membership category. Thank you for supporting the Specialists of BC.