Medical Services Commission, Telus Health reach agreement on LifePlus program

THE Medical Services Commission of British Columbia and Telus Health have reached a settlement regarding Telus’s LifePlus program, the Medical Services Commission announced on Wednesday.

Telus Health has worked with the commission and committed to make agreed-upon operational changes to its LifePlus program to ensure its compliance with the Medicare Protection Act.

As a result of the pending modifications to the LifePlus program, the commission has suspended its pursuit of an injunction.

“We are pleased with the collaborative efforts between the Medical Services Commission and Telus Health to reach a settlement that upholds the principles of the Medicare Protection Act,” said Dr. Robert Halpenny, Chair of the Medical Services Commission. “Telus’s commitment to amending its LifePlus program helps maintain the integrity of public health care in British Columbia.”

The settlement addresses concerns raised by the commission in its petition for injunction filed on December 1, 2022, and ensures compliance with the Medicare Protection Act.

The injunction application was filed to prevent Telus Health from contravening Section 17 of the act by facilitating access, or priority access, to Medical Services Plan benefits through its LifePlus program.

The commission said it is committed to upholding the principles of the Medicare Protection Act. This settlement should serve as an indicator to others who may be offering expensive patient-funded health-care programs, that charging for access, or priority access, to medically necessary health care will be investigated.


Quick Facts:

* The Medical Services Commission is an independent, government-appointed body in British Columbia.

* Its role is to oversee the administration and operation of the Medical Services Plan (MSP) in the province.

* The MSC ensures fair and equitable access to medically necessary health-care services for all people in British Columbia.

* Section 17 of the Medicare Protection Act addresses extra-billing practices.

* Extra-billing is the practice of charging patients for benefits, or for priority access to benefits already covered by MSP.

* Section 17 prohibits health care practitioners from extra-billing patients to maintain the integrity of public health care in British Columbia.


Health Minister Adrian Dix
Photo: BC Government

MEANWHILE, Health Minister Adrian Dix said in a statement:

“I would like to extend my gratitude to the Medical Services Commission for its tireless work in defending our public health-care system. By identifying and addressing non-compliance with the Medicare Protection Act, the commission plays a crucial role in upholding the principles of fairness and equity in our health-care system for the benefit of all people in British Columbia. I asked the commission to review Telus’s LifePlus program with those principles in mind.

“We remain steadfast in our commitment to uphold the Medicare Protection Act, which is in place to preserve our publicly administered health-care system in British Columbia. In 2018, we strengthened the MPA to include new protections for patients to prevent extra billing, clarify the rules for medical practitioners and establish consequences for those who break the rules.

“By strengthening the MPA, the Medical Services Commission is provided additional powers to act decisively against those who disregard the rules and pose a threat to our public health-care system, ensuring the best interests of patients are prioritized and safeguarded.

“I understand the commission and Telus Health have worked together in response to the commission’s injunction petition filed on Dec. 1, 2022. Since the application was filed, Telus Health has demonstrated to the commission’s satisfaction that it will make the agreed-upon modifications to its LifePlus program.

“To ensure compliance going forward, Telus Health will no longer offer physician services to new clients through its LifePlus program. This ensures compliance with the Medical Protection Act. Telus Health will also separate its existing physician services to offer publicly funded medically necessary services apart from its LifePlus program.

“I want to thank Telus Health for its commitment to move forward with the provision of health-care services as envisioned in the Medicare Protection Act and in support of the principle of equitable patient access to health-care services.

“The commission has suspended its pursuit of an injunction and we look forward to Telus Health’s continued contributions to B.C.’s health-care system.

“I am determined that all organizations providing health-care services in British Columbia operate in full compliance of the Medicare Protection Act to maintain the integrity of our public system.

“As the Province continues the work of addressing challenges, adding capacity and reforming the health care sector, the Ministry of Health and the Medical Services Commission will continue to defend the public health-care system and ensure that it remains accessible and equitable for all people in B.C.

“This is a part of government’s ongoing work to make it easier for people to access health-care services. The Province continues to expand access to primary care services at urgent and primary care clinics and efforts are underway to continue strengthening primary care networks throughout B.C. These initiatives are supported through a new physician master agreement and compensation model as a part of B.C.’s Health Human Resources Strategy.

“The introduction of the new Longitudinal Family Practice Model (LFP) has proven to be a remarkable success in attracting new and existing family doctors to practice in British Columbia. To date, 2,893 physicians have registered for the new payment model representing nearly 60% of family physicians in B.C. By providing the compensation and practice environments family doctors need, we are ensuring they can focus on providing the best possible care to their patients, all within the public system.”