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Ontario Government slashes fees for doctors posing serious concerns to accident victims

Earlier this week, the Kathleen Wynne Ontario Provincial government announced unilateral cuts to all of its fees which it pays to doctors. The cuts around around 2.65% across the board for services. Ontario doctors have been without a proper contract with the Government since March 31, 2014. Contract negotiations have broken down such that the Ontario Medical Association (OMA) refuses to accept the provinces proposals; and the province refuses to give in to the OMA’s demands.

In addition to the 2.65% cut to all OHIP plan fees, the province will eliminate funding to doctors to take continuing medical education courses; will reduce the fees for walk-in visits by $1.70 to bring it in line with with the fee for regular visits to a family doctor; eliminate the premium for doctors to accept new patients who are healthy; and eliminate the number of family doctors in well-serviced areas who can join family health teams where doctors are paid by the number of patients they enroll (not fee for service).

10% of Ontario Provincial budget is devoted towards healthcare. Of that 10%; 25% is devoted towards paying doctors. I would be ok if that budget were higher on both ends, but that’s me. Now you know where I stand.

Are doctors happy with these unilateral terms imposed by the government? I haven’t spoken with a single doctor OR patient who has welcomed these changes.

Will doctors strike? No. But the reprecussions will be felt across the provincial health care system. More on that later.

How much does the Province predict they will save by these cuts and changes? Another good question. In fact, that question was so good, that Minister of Health, Dr. Eric Hoskins dodged the question when it was asked to him.

Now, this is the Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog. The spin we put on our entries has to deal with personal injury law and how changes in the law impact the day to day lives of accident victims, disability claimants and their families.

The OHIP system is VERY important to personal injury claims. I tell accident victims that calling a LAWYER is the LAST person to call in the chain of command. The first person to contact is an ambulance or 911 if you’ve been seriously injured. Your health is paramount. The law can wait until your condition has stabilized. Would your first call with a broken leg protruding through your skin be to Brian Goldfinger personal injury lawyer extraordinaire or for an ambulance!? You decide.

Getting back to health involves the skill, knowledge, interest and patience of a GOOD and understanding family doctor and a team of doctors. Can’t forget them. If rates are cut across the board, and doctors are asked to to MORE, for LESS, what level of service do your think you’re going to get?

Doctors are professionals. But as professionals, they deserve to be compensated fairly for their services. Expecting doctors to swallow cut back after cut back; year after year; on a tired and over burdened health care system is unrealistic. There’s only so much bending over backwards that doctors can do before you start to notice real problems with the system.

Canada is an awful big country. There are plenty of fantastic places where skilled professionals can practice. There is a real risk that young, talented doctors looking to start their practices will leave Ontario towards greener pastures where they are better compensated and APPRECIATED. That’s not what Ontarians want. We want the brightest and the best to practice here and flourish instead of flee.

A cut back across the board of 2.65%: does this mean that your doctor will spend 2.65% less time helping you or devote 2.65% less attention to your medical problem? I’m not sure, but doctors are humans just like you and me. They get frustrated just like you and me. They are trying to make a living just like you and me. Many didn’t go in to the practice of medicine to work pro-bono; although that’s what it’s heading to.

Ambitious young doctors may say to heck with billing the OHIP system, and may take exclusively or increase their practice to doing more private work. And when I say private medical work; I’m referring to doing more medical legal examinations in the context of a personal injury claim. If a doctor gets on a roster for an insurance company or for a busy assessment centre, they can likely make double on generating generic medico-legal reports, for half the effort required in a family run OHIP practice. Even if the same doctor devotes a greater portion of his/her time towards private medico-legal or IME work; that means that it’s less visits for patients who really need the care from an OHIP funded doctor. I have NEVER met a single doctor who went to medical school for the purpose of selling their soul to an insurance company to generate generic medical reports which are quite frankly, full of lies or totally biased. More often than not, they have been found working for insurers to be EASIER and more lucrative than serving OHIP.

One of the biggest problems I’ve seen for accident victims is their inability to either find a family doctor, or get an appointment on a timely basis.¬†mdaf

When it comes to finding a family doctor, there used to be a premium for doctors to take on new patients. This was a good thing for doctors and accident victims/patients alike.

This round of cut backs has effectively eliminated that incentive for doctors to take on new patients; thus making it more difficult to people who really need a family doctor to find one.

One way for new family doctors to get started with their respective practices was to join a family health team. Another instance where the provincial government has posed such limits.

What’s more concerning is that when it comes to car insurance; medical and rehabilitation benefits have been reduced in minor accidents to just $3,500. That’s not a lot of money for recovery. This has increased the burden on the OHIP system because that $3,500 in treatment money is exhausted rather quickly. I would love to see a proper study on the cost to OHIP which CAR ACCIDENT victims have now that the Minor Injury Guideline of $3,500 has been introduce vs. when those limits were at $100,000. It would make sense that when limits for med/rehab benefits were at $100,000 per car accident claim, that accident victims didn’t have to rely as heavily on the OHIP system as they do now when there’s just $3,500 to work with.

I’m ¬†certain that the government doesn’t even consider that overlap. They just want to continue cutting accident benefits available under car insurance policies in the hopes that car insurance rates will drop. This remains unlikely and hasn’t been the case since the Minor Injury Guideline was introduced. Instead, car insurance rates have gone UP; and what do you know; it’s been at the expense of an increased burden to the OHIP system. And there you have the result: more cuts to Ontario doctors. How’s that for a connection between Ontario doctor fee cuts and Ontario car insurance? Seems like everything is connected. Circle of life…Lesson: don’t get injured and don’t get sick because the treatment/services available to you are just getting worse by the day.

 

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