Quebec to prohibit insurance from requiring unnecessary doctor’s notes

Quebec to prohibit insurance from requiring unnecessary doctor’s notes

Labour Minister Jean Boulet says family doctors could free up 500,000 additional medical appointments for patients annually by not doing this paperwork.

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Quebec plans to pass a bill that would prohibit insurance companies from demanding medical notes from doctors, to free the physicians from unnecessary paperwork.

On Wednesday, Labour Minister Jean Boulet announced he will table a bill to cut red tape so that family doctors can free up 500,000 additional medical appointments for patients annually.

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Boulet said family doctors spend a quarter of their time filling out forms for insurance companies, time that could be spent on medical consultations.

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His bill will prohibit insurers from requiring that a person consult a doctor to be reimbursed for equipment, such as a cane or a support boot, or the services of a physiotherapist or massage therapist, for example.

Boulet said a request for accommodation in a CHSLD should not require a visit to the doctor, either.

“Someone who is experiencing professional burnout, we don’t need … for the insurer to require a visit all the time. Someone with a fracture … they should not be asked to see the doctor every three weeks,” he said.

Boulet said he couldn’t guarantee premiums would not increase with the probable increase in reimbursements.

“We cannot give guarantees. Is it possible that there will be an impact? I am not in a position to evaluate it,” he said.

All three opposition parties welcomed the measure on Wednesday.

“It’s an excellent initiative, sincerely,” Québec solidaire co-spokesperson Christine Labrie said at a press briefing.

“It is a major irritant for patients to have to go and get these prescriptions each time, especially for people who do not have a family doctor. So, we really welcome this initiative,” she added.

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“I think that for doctors to make their job easier is a good thing. It will help with productivity,” added Liberal MNA Frédéric Beauchemin.

Parti Québécois MNA Pascal Bérubé welcomed the government’s “intentions” but said he was waiting for the “results, if it works.”

On social media, the Fédération des médecins omnipraticiens du Québec (FMOQ) also doubted that the measure could free up half-a-million medical appointments annually.

“This figure seems exaggerated to us at first glance, and we are waiting for the minister to explain his methodology,” the union said.

The FMOQ invited the government to take “one more step” by prohibiting insurance companies from requiring medical notes for absences of less than five days.

In a statement, the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association offered to collaborate with Health Minister Christian Dubé to reduce the administrative workload on doctors.

“Reducing the administrative burden on doctors and nursing staff is one of the essential solutions to improve the performance of the health network,” the statement quoted Quebec president Lyne Duhaime as saying. “Through the benefit plans they offer, our members are strongly invested in the health and well-being of Quebecers. We are resolutely committed to implementing initiatives that reduce the administrative burden on health professionals.”

The association said in group plans, medical referrals are “generally no longer required for reimbursement for treatment provided by a paramedical professional, such as massage therapists, chiropractors, physiotherapists, psychologists, and acupuncturists.” It also said it developed a standard disability forms that are “accepted by all personal insurers.”

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