New national survey indicates future of physiotherapy services for Albertans jeopardized by the gap between treatment costs and the benefits paid by insurers.



    EDMONTON, May 30 /CNW/ - A third national survey done by the Canadian
Physiotherapy Association (CPA) objectively and conclusively demonstrates that
the gap between the cost of providing physiotherapy services in private
clinics and the benefits coverage provided by third party insurers for these
services is widening. The CPA Cost of Business Survey shows that third party
payers are failing to keep pace with the escalating costs physiotherapists
face in order to provide the best care for their patients. This has serious
consequences for Alberta patients as clinics may find that they have no other
choice but to decline to participate in certain crucial health benefit
programs such as workers compensation.
    Most physiotherapy services were de-listed from the Alberta Health Care
Insurance Plan in 1995, and outpatient physiotherapy has since been provided
for the most part in the private sector, particularly in urban and semi-urban
areas. Physiotherapists are responsible for the rehabilitation of many
Canadians, and the number of patients they are treating in private clinics is
growing annually. As the percentage of physiotherapy coverage from public
funding sources decreases annually, the responsibility for paying for these
services is going to third party payers and the individual patient. However,
these payers are not providing adequate compensation for the cost of treating
patients covered under their benefit plans. In the province of Alberta the
cost of a physiotherapist treatment visit is $73.18, yet the Worker's
Compensation Board, for example, only pays $36.19, almost half of what it
costs.
    The widening gap between the cost of providing physiotherapy services and
the reimbursement provided for doing so by third party insurers means
outpatient access to physiotherapy may be compromised. "The right service by
the right providers at the right time may become more of a dream than a
reality, and clients will be significantly disadvantaged as a result," says
Peter Portlock, Executive Director of the Alberta Physiotherapy Association
(APA).
    "It may mean some clinics will no longer to be able to afford to accept
some service contracts. Currently, rates are fixed in Alberta with the Workers
Compensation Board, Motor Vehicle Section B, and the public health regions,"
says Wendy Neidhardt, Chair of the Private Practice Division of the Canadian
Physiotherapy Association and owner of Advantage Health which operates five
physiotherapy clinics in Calgary. "The fees paid for physiotherapy services
should at least begin to approach the costs of providing these services," adds
Neidhardt. Both she and Portlock are attending the National Congress of the
Canadian Physiotherapy Association this weekend in Calgary, which is co-hosted
by APA.

    APA is committed to working with governments, insurers and other health
professions to develop appropriate and innovative models of funding and
service delivery, to manage costs and ensure that Albertans have access to the
health services they require.





For further information:

For further information: Media contacts: Peter Portlock, Executive
Director, APA, (780) 914-4719 (mobile), peter.portlock@albertaphysio.org;
Wendy Neidhardt, Advantage Health Group, (403) 809-2631 (mobile) (after 4:00pm
Sat. May 30), wendy@advantagehealth.ca

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ALBERTA PHYSIOTHERAPY ASSOCIATION

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