TORONTO, April 20 /CNW/ - In Ontario, landed immigrants and many
returning Canadians are subject to a three-month waiting period for
OHIP health insurance coverage. Ontario's doctors are calling on the
government to remove the delay so patients can access care when they
Under the current rules, many immigrants and returning Canadians forego
seeking medical care, which can be dangerous to them and, in the case
of infectious diseases, to others they are in contact with.
"The 3-month wait for OHIP can be bad for a patient's health, the
community and makes it harder for the system to properly care for
patients," said Dr. Mark MacLeod, President of the Ontario Medical
Association (OMA). "Immediate OHIP coverage ensures that patients seek
the care they need, when they need it."
Those that do seek medical care are forced to go to the hospital
emergency department where they know they will not be turned away.
Emergency Physicians often treat uninsured patients for on-going,
non-emergency illnesses and minor health concerns that would be much
more efficiently managed in a primary care setting. Physicians also
regularly treat patients in the emergency department with unmanaged
chronic illness, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, but who had
not been previously assessed and were not being treated because they
did not have access to care.
Although the 3-month wait was initially introduced as a cost-saving
measure, the OMA has found no evidence to suggest that OHIP costs would
increase if it was removed. In fact, according to a paper entitled New
Approaches to Immigrant Health Assessment, published in the Canadian
Journal of Public Health, this delay in obtaining health coverage
appears to cause a spike in billings once coverage is obtained,
suggesting that many new immigrants simply save up their doctors'
visits until the 3-month wait is over, delaying but not reducing OHIP
"There is no health benefit to waiting to provide insurance until after
three months are up," said Dr. MacLeod. "Whether a person has an
infectious disease, an urgent health event, an accident, or a chronic
illness, the best possible outcomes will be achieved when the person
seeks medical care as quickly as possible."
Six provinces and territories, including Alberta, Prince Edward Island,
Newfoundland, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia and the Northwest Territories,
already provide immediate full provincial health insurance coverage to
new immigrants upon establishing residence and to returning Canadians.
SOURCE Ontario Medical Association
For further information:
Please contact OMA Media Relations
1-800-268-7215 ext 2862 or 416-340-2862