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HomeCanadian NewsTelus denies allegations its fee-based companies create two-tier system

Telus denies allegations its fee-based companies create two-tier system

Well being Minister Adrian Dix in February requested the Medical Providers Fee to look into complaints about Telus’s LifePlus Program and different non-public fee-based companies.

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Telus Well being is disputing claims that its non-public, fee-based companies create a two-tier system that enables some to leap the queue, saying sufferers who pay for the LifePlus program solely obtain companies not coated by B.C.’s Medical Providers Plan.

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“There aren’t any queue-jumping alternatives inside LifePlus as a result of we don’t present medically insured companies,” mentioned Sonya Lockyer, vice-president of Telus Well being Care Centres in a wide-ranging interview with Postmedia Information.

Well being Minister Adrian Dix in February requested the Medical Providers Fee to look into complaints about Telus’s LifePlus Program and different non-public fee-based companies. The evaluate will give attention to making certain such companies “usually are not permitting queue-jumping for sufferers who pay a charge, which is prohibited by Canadian legal guidelines,” in accordance with the Well being Ministry.

Telus supplied written solutions to the fee three months in the past and hasn’t heard any replace from the fee, which is chaired by Dr. Robert Halpenny.

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The LifePlus plan, which prices $4,650 for the primary yr and $3,600 yearly in subsequent years, provides personalised “preventative well being and wellness” resembling stress checks and checkups, assessments from dietitians, kinesiologists and occupational therapists. The LifePlus service is commonly a perk for workers, resembling C-suite executives or legal professionals, paid by their employer.

A number of British Columbians, together with Mark Winston, a 72-year-old Vancouver resident, reported receiving letters from their household physician that mentioned the physician can be closing their follow and transferring full-time to Telus Well being.

Winston was instructed if he wished to proceed seeing his physician, he’d need to pay $4,650 for the primary yr and $3,600 yearly after that to register in Telus Well being’s LifePlus program. Winston, a professor and senior fellow at Simon Fraser College’s Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue, beforehand instructed Postmedia that he was “horrified” he was being requested to pay for well being care that must be out there to all British Columbians.

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Lockyer mentioned the overwhelming majority of physicians working for Telus Well being proceed to practise within the main care system the place they invoice for companies coated by MSP.

“The overwhelming majority of our physicians do proceed to practise within the main care mannequin,” Lockyer mentioned. “Very not often can we make use of physicians full-time. In some circumstances physicians might be making an attempt to downsize their workload and could determine to give attention to preventative well being.”

If a household physician closes their follow and solely works for Telus Well being, “they wouldn’t have the ability to see folks for medically insured companies as a result of we don’t pay them for that,” she mentioned.

There’s a false notion amongst sufferers, Lockyer mentioned, that LifePlus ensures fast-tracked entry to publicly funded well being companies, resembling appointments with specialists or MRIs, which is why Telus makes clear to sufferers that’s not the case.

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“If a affected person wants a medically insured service, they might be referred into the identical specialist workplace that anybody else might be referred into as a result of we don’t supply specialist medical care,” she mentioned. “There’s no such factor as fast-tracking publicly funded well being companies for a charge.”

Telus Well being operates 16 health-care clinics throughout the nation. In B.C., it employs 29 full-time physicians by means of the LifePlus applications with 4,900 sufferers enrolled. Telus Well being pays medical doctors a every day fee and covers their overhead prices.

Jill Schnarr, Telus’s chief social innovation and communications officer, mentioned the employer-based preventive well being and wellness companies supplied by LifePlus “assist alleviate the burden on the general health-care system as a result of they allow folks to be wholesome and keep wholesome.

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“So loads of that is stress checks, interviews with dietitians, a complete life-style evaluation,” she mentioned. “It’s not one thing you’d obtain if you go to your common physician.”

Telus Well being additionally provides digital walk-in clinics beneath their MyCare service, which was working earlier than 2020 however exploded in recognition throughout COVID-19 when many wished to talk to a health care provider with out leaving their dwelling. The corporate didn’t say what number of medical doctors in B.C. work for MyCare however pressured all medical doctors work for Telus part-time whereas sustaining different primary-care companies.

Dix mentioned within the Legislature in Might that there are 31 physicians in B.C. for whom Telus billings accounted for greater than 80 per cent of their MSP billings and 162 physicians who invoice MSP for lower than 80 per cent of their billings by means of Telus Well being.

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B.C. Inexperienced social gathering Chief Sonia Furstenau is anxious Telus Well being will lure household medical doctors, burned out by the present fee-for-service mannequin, to their non-public clinics and additional exacerbate the physician scarcity.

“So what we’ve is Telus providing to physicians this feature of a extra sustainable, extra interesting sort of working situations,” Furstenau mentioned. “What we want from the Minister of Well being and this authorities is to make sure that medical doctors truly need to be practising main care, they need to be household physicians in B.C. and, presently, that isn’t the situation we’ve.”

Furstenau mentioned whereas Telus maintains its non-public, fee-based service gives preventive well being care and companies not coated by MSP, “preventative well being care is what our focus must be (within the public system).”

“It makes a lot extra sense to have a health-care system that’s oriented to preventative well being care,” she mentioned. “And that’s what we’re shedding if we don’t have a authorities that takes this disaster significantly.”

Dix has requested the Medical Providers Fee to wrap up by June. It’s unclear whether or not the complete evaluate might be made public.

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