A major financial barrier to motor vehicle accident victims seeking physiotherapy treatments has been removed by ICBC.
Under new regulations coming into effect April 1, 2019, ICBC will remove the need for physio user fee charges for anyone injured in a crash regardless of fault.
The physio care aspect is part of new regulations concerning sprains, strains, aches, cuts, bruises, minor whiplash, concussions and mental health issues caused by automobile crashes.
Kelowna physiotherapist Kevin Bos, co-owner of Sun City Physiotherapy who sits on the Physiotherapy Association of B.C. board of directors, said the new contract between the association and the province increases pre-authorized treatments from 20 to 25, an initial assessment visit and report and agreement on a new fee structure that eliminates the need for user fees.
“Our last contract with ICBC was 1993, so for several decades we have had to charge user fees to allow for cost of living increases. Every few years that would increase and that became a huge barrier for some people in accessing care,” Bos said.
‘With the financial cost issue now removed, it will allow for that initial physio treatment intervention to happen right away which should result in a huge improvement in patient outcomes. Early treatment of accident-related injuries is critical and will make a big difference for people.”
He said people ignoring the hurt or pain from accident-related injuries often find their nerve or tissue damage the source for further complicating health issues if ignored for months after the accident.
“The longer those kind of injuries carry on untreated, developing into chronic pain situations, they end up being extremely challenging for everyone to resolve,” he said.
Bos said his association had a seat at the table in the negotiations over fee and funding allocations, which he said was an exciting advancement for his side of the health care professions, an acknowledgement within government health care circles of how physiotherapy can play a key role in facilitating positive treatment outcomes for accident victims and work to reduce health care costs.
He added an uptake in the physio client demand could result from the ICBC changes, which may pose another problem with the current inability to fill current private and government care physio positions.
“With the province right now, there about 200 vacancies in physio job openings. We are having to recruit more people from out of province to keep up with the demand,” he said.
He said solutions to that issue revolve around physio health care funding and creating more university student spaces for potential physiotherapy graduates to meet the job demand.