Ontario Election Issue - Auto Insurance: Accident Victims Take Hit
TORONTO, Sept. 19, 2011 /CNW/ - According to a survey of rehabilitation providers in Ontario, people injured in a motor vehicle accident are now worse off as a result of the Liberal government's changes to the auto insurance system last September.
The survey, conducted by the Alliance of Community Medical and Rehabilitation Providers, found a number of troubling developments in the way accident victims are now being handled.
"We were shocked by how quickly these negative trends have worked through the system and the degree to which services and benefits have eroded," said Nick Gurevich, President of the Alliance.
The survey found:
A significant increase in the number of accident victims who are running
out of benefits before they are fully recovered - A majority of providers say at least half of their clients will now
run out of benefits (vs. 10% or fewer of their clients a year ago).
Health care service denials have escalated - More than two-thirds of providers say insurers are now denying 30% or
more of assessment and treatment plan requests (vs. a denial rate of
10% or less a year ago).
Many accident victims are now NOT being assessed - The cap on assessment fees and the fact that travel expenses must now
be included have made it uneconomic to assess certain claimants,
particularly those in rural areas. About two-thirds of providers say
between 10% and 50% of claimants are now not being assessed (vs. a
similar number reporting zero assessment refusals a year ago).
- Victims are waiting longer to receive treatment and services - The vast majority of providers report that their clients are now waiting 2 months or more (vs. a wait of a month or less a year ago).
"The survey of 45 rehab practices across the province is not scientific, but it does uncover some disturbing evidence that points to a breakdown in consumer protection," Gurevich notes.
And the Alliance is not the only group concerned: medical experts are also worried about their patients. Dr. Donna Ouchterlony, medical director of the Brain Injury Clinic at St. Michael's Hospital notes, "Since September, we are seeing more and more patients with serious injuries whose insurers are outright denying treatment, and when funding is approved, it is no longer nearly enough. The system is just not working".
The Alliance is calling for a thorough and independent review of the auto insurance system in Ontario - independent of government, the Financial Services Commission of Ontario, and any insurance industry linkages.
Pending that review, the Alliance says the following must happen immediately to ensure that those injured in auto accidents are treated fairly:
re-instate the benefits that were in place prior to last September
allow the cap on assessments to be exceeded in certain circumstances
withdraw the right of insurance adjusters to deny medical claims without
an independent medical opinion
- require more openness and transparency, with insurers having to release financial and operations data for their auto insurance lines
The Alliance represents approximately 80 companies and about 3,500 health care providers including physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech language pathologists, chiropractors, psychologists, rehabilitation therapists, social workers, personal support workers and case managers. It is these individuals who are the primary providers of healthcare and rehabilitative services to Ontarians who are injured in automobile accidents.For further information:
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