For immediate release
May 21st, 2020
The BC Health Coalition is disappointed to issue a correction to our March press release regarding expanded coverage for COVID-19 testing and treatment.
Contrary to a commitment outlined in the Medical Services Plan Response to COVID-19, MSP coverage for hospital services related to COVID-19 treatment was not extended to everyone in BC during the peak of the pandemic. Since the borders were closed, individuals who were visiting and migrants not eligible for MSP who caught the coronavirus have been issued staggering bills for hospital stays. In one such case a man whose father recently died of COVID-19 was presented with a hospital bill of $200,000.
“I wish this correction was not necessary. When the policy was first announced, it provided comfort and assurance that no one would be left without necessary protection against the pandemic,'' says Dr. Srinivas Murthy, an infectious disease specialist at UBC leading a national research effort to improve clinical management of COVID-19. “Billing individuals at their most vulnerable, when there was a clear commitment not to, will sow confusion and distrust and may lead to many people avoiding essential care.”
Since March 24, the MSP resource site has stated that “if you are present in B.C. and would otherwise not be eligible for coverage under MSP, you will be provided provincially insured health care coverage for services related to, suspected, or confirmed cases of infection with COVID-19.” The BC Health Coalition along with health care workers and public health experts celebrated this important policy decision. However, we have since confirmed that the government is not planning on covering hospital bills incurred before May 7.
“As a health care provider, I need to be confident that if I am pursuing a diagnosis, then appropriate treatment can be offered, including necessary hospitalization and acute care,” says Dr. Mei-ling Wiedmeyer, a family physician. “Fragmented, unclear and arbitrary distinctions between services cause harm by creating unnecessary barriers to needed health care. This infringes on both the human right to health and good public health practice.”
Campaigner, BC Health Coalition