VICTORIA – A British Columbia company offering health services to patients who pay annual fees starting at $4,650 has agreed to modify its policies, averting a court challenge over public health care, says the province’s health minister.
An out-of-court settlement between B.C.’s Medical Services Commission and Telus Health suspends the commission’s injunction application filed last December that alleges the company’s LifePlus program was charging for health services that are covered under the Medical Services Plan, Adrian Dix said Wednesday.
The injunction application alleged the LifePlus program included annual fees that could lead people to believe they would get preferential treatment and access to doctors if they pay for a membership.
Telus and the commission have worked together to modify the LifePlus program to ensure it complies with the Medicare Protection Act, said Dix.
“Since the (injunction) application was filed, Telus has demonstrated to the commission’s satisfaction that it will make the agreed upon modifications to its LifePlus program,” Dix said at a news conference.
“I am delighted,” he said. “To ensure compliance going forward, Telus will no longer offer physician services to new clients for its LifePlus program. This ensures compliance with the Medicare Protection Act.”
The injunction application was filed last year to prevent Telus Health from contravening the Medicare Protection Act by facilitating access, or priority access to medical services through its LifePlus program, says a Ministry of Health statement.
The Medical Services Commission is an independent, government-appointed body that oversees the administration and operation of the Medical Services Plan in B.C.
“Telus’ commitment to amending their LifePlus program helps maintain the integrity of public health care in B.C.,” said Dr. Robert Halpenny, the commission’s chair, in a statement.
Telus Health spokeswoman Juggy Sihota said in a statement the mutual agreement will see Telus Health modify LifePlus to establish a clearer link between insured and uninsured care delivery.
“In a challenging and evolving health environment, Telus Health is committed to continuing to be a collaborative partner in providing innovative health solutions to people in B.C.,” says Sihota.
Dix said the commission plays a crucial role in upholding the principles of fairness and equity in B.C.’s health-care system.
“The commission has suspended its pursuit of an injunction and we look forward to Telus Health’s continued contributions to the health-care system in B.C.,” he said. “This is how we act to protect health-care services in B.C. and how we act to protect patients.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 26, 2023.
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