CLHIA concerned about benefit plan impact of proposed change to chiropractor services

The Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association is warning that private sector employers may not be willing to cover new diagnostic services proposed as part of an expansion of the scope of practice for Alberta chiropractors.

The Alberta College and Association of Chiropractors has applied to Alberta Health Services for changes that would allow “appropriately trained chiropractors to deliver electrodiagnosis in needle electromyography and nerve conduction studies, as well as to apply non-ionizing radiation in ultrasound imaging,” according to the CLHIA.

Provincial health plans currently cover the the two tests, says Joan Weir, director of health and dental policy at the CLHIA. But the proposed change could mean private sector insurance companies would have to cover the costs and would then pass them on to plan sponsors, she notes.

The college’s “submission to Alberta Health Services specifically states that they are assuming that private insurance will pick up the costs of these tests, should they move from the public sector, as they are being paid today,” says Weir.

“Our caution back to the Alberta Health Services is that this would not necessarily be the case.”

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According to a letter from the CLHIA to Alberta Health Services and the college, the changes would provide increased and faster access to services currently provided by medical specialists and radiologists.

But with paramedical costs on the rise, the CLHIA’s letter noted Alberta employers are “struggling to sustain their existing levels of coverage for their employees.”

“We did take this out to few member companies to get their input and we’re aligned that plan sponsors do not want to see their premiums grow, and this would possible cause more expenditure on the private plan side,” says Weir.

However, she acknowledges that with benefit plans typically putting caps on chiropractor claims, the new diagnostic tools may simply “use that benefit a little more quickly.”

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