Don't expect employers to foot new chiropractic bills in Alberta

par Andrew Rickard | June 29 2016 09:48AM

The Alberta College and Association of Chiropractors (ACAC) has applied to allow its members to deliver electrodiagnosis (EDx). The Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association (CLHIA) is concerned that change will shift the costs away from the public healthcare system and onto private plans.

Earlier this month, CLHIA sent a letter to Shawn Knight, executive director of the health human resource planning & strategy branch at Alberta Health commenting on proposed changes to professional regulations in the province that would allow chiropractors to deliver electrodiagnosis (EDx) in needle electromyography and nerve conduction studies, as well as to apply non-ionizing radiation in ultrasound imaging. The logic behind the change it that it would give people better access to these services.

Often included in employee benefit plans

CLHIA notes in its letter that chiropractic services are often included in employee benefit plans, and says it is concerned that these changes may mean that Albertans will end up paying for services currently covered under the public health plan. The association emphasizes that employers in Alberta are already struggling to sustain their existing levels of coverage for their workers.

"Even though most benefit plans offer a limited or capped maximum towards the payment of eligible chiropractor services, plan sponsors have seen growth in the 'paramedical' portion of the benefit plan, which includes chiropractor services, of 17% between 2013 and 2014, from $1.7 B to $2.0 B dollars," writes Joan Weir, director of health and dental policy at CLHIA. "This trend has continued in 2015 and to date in 2016. Given this overall context, we would caution against any assumption that employers, on mass, will choose to pick up the associated costs with this expanded scope."