Changes to the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan

Diagnostic Imaging Referred by Chiropractors and Physiotherapists

Mayfair • Mar 26, 2020

On March 31, 2020, changes announced by the Alberta Government will go into effect. After this date, diagnostic imaging exams ordered by chiropractors and physiotherapists will no longer be covered by the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan.

What does this mean for patients?

When you book diagnostic imaging, you will be asked the name of your referring health care practitioner. Mayfair’s booking agents or our clinic receptionist will look up the referrer on our booking system and, if they are a chiropractor or physiotherapist, you will be advised that there is a cost for your exam.

If you wish to delay booking until you’ve discussed the details of your exam with your referrer, you will be able to do so. You may also wish to check your private health insurance plan or health spending account details to see if this exam is covered.

If you wish to go ahead, we will advise you of the indicative cost for your exam and proceed to book your appointment. You also have the option of requesting your referrer to make this enquiry on your behalf.

Mayfair has contacted patients already booked for exams who are affected by these changes to explain their options.

What does this mean for chiropractors and physiotherapists?

When chiropractic and physiotherapy patients need diagnostic imaging, chiropractors and physiotherapists will need to advise their patients that these services are now uninsured “patient pay” services, when they are ordered by a chiropractor and physiotherapist. There will be a cost for each examination.

What will happen at my appointment?

When you arrive for your appointment, you will need to provide the receptionist with your requisition and check-in prior to your exam. At this time, you will need to pay the relevant fee for each exam ordered by a chiropractor or physiotherapist. This fee is based on the Schedule of Medical Benefits provided by the Alberta Society of Radiologists – Mayfair does not add any additional charges.

Payment can only be made on a credit or debit card. Cash and check payment will not be accepted. You will be provided with a receipt for payment.

What types of exams does this affect?

As a result of these changes, certain exams can no longer be referred by chiropractors and physiotherapists:

  • Arthrograms (CT and MRI)
  • Bone mineral densitometry evaluations
  • Nuclear medicine imaging
  • Pain therapy procedures*

The above exams will not be offered on a “patient pay” basis, and they would need to be ordered by a family doctor or a specialist. Only X-ray and ultrasound exams will have a “patient pay” option for each exam, when ordered by a chiropractor or physiotherapist. Mayfair will continue to accept all MRI and CT referrals from chiropractors, and MRI referrals from physiotherapists with an Advanced Certificate, with the exception of MRI and CT arthrograms, on a private pay basis after March 31, 2020.

*If requested by a chiropractor, Mayfair can provide pre-assessment services where a patient might need a spine injection (neck and back). This would include the provision of a treatment plan and pain management options, as well as consultation for physician-directed imaging and ordering of the appropriate pain therapy procedure.

What do these changes mean in the context of COVID-19 precautions?

The Alberta College and Association of Chiropractors has recommended that chiropractors suspend all chiropractic services except those limited to emergent care only, effective Monday, March 23, 2020, and will remain in place until further notice. Emergent care is defined as follows:

  • The patient is in an acute condition where they would be severely physically limited from basic daily activities without chiropractic care.
  • The patient is in a sub-acute condition that if left untreated would be vulnerable to an acute flare-up that could leave them severely physically limited from basic daily activities.

Many Calgary physiotherapy clinics have closed in-clinic consultations until further notice, and are offering tele-health options for their clients. Some clinics are remaining open however.

The changes outlined in the previous questions will still apply to any diagnostic imaging exams ordered by a chiropractor or physiotherapist after March 31, 2020. Mayfair remains open for essential diagnostic imaging services with enhanced health and safety protocols, visit our website for more information.

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