The BC government has announced changes to ICBC that will provide increased levels of medical care and enhanced supports for recovery for people injured in motor vehicle accidents.
The expanded coverage will go into effect Spring 2021. The changes are the latest steps in the transition of ICBC to a care-based insurance model that started in April 2019.
Major changes include:
An increase in the maximum coverage for care and recovery benefits, to $7.5 million. Currently it is $300,000. These benefits include services such as physiotherapy, counselling, dental care, prescriptions and personal care.
New benefits for full-time students, caregivers, those working in the family business or those approaching retirement, who suffer income loss following a crash. This is over and above the $7.5 million.
New benefits for the catastrophically injured, including a permanent impairment benefit, which will provide financial compensation of up to $250,000.
Medical and enhanced recovery benefits available to drivers, passengers, pedestrians and cyclists injured in an motor vehicle crash in Canada or the U.S., regardless of who was responsible for the crash.
Reduced burdens for physicians include:
Less time doing legal reports and less time spent in court means physicians can focus on better patient care.
Reduced paperwork. Government and ICBC will consult physicians through Doctors of BC on ways to reduce administrative burdens such as excess paperwork, as outlined in the government’s Enhanced Care Coverage Intentions Paper.
Physicians, not ICBC, will decide what recovery treatments are needed and for how long.
Doctors of BC will be working with ICBC and other partners to provide input into education and training resources for physicians in advance of Spring 2021 implementation.
A public website provides an overview of ICBC’s insurance changes. In addition, ICBC’s Health Services partner pages on icbc.com will provide ongoing updates for physicians and specialists.
Will Doctors of BC be in a position to provide input as this moves toward implementation in 2021?
Yes. While the new maximum accident benefit limit of at least $7.5 million for medical care and recovery benefits will be set out in legislation, the provincial government and ICBC will be consulting with physicians through Doctors of BC on many elements prior to details being finalized in Regulation (before the end of 2020).
The initial consultations are expected to take place between February and May 2020. Once the Regulations are established, further consultations will take place to support implementation of the new model before its launch in Spring 2021.
The Doctors of BC ICBC Liaison Working Group will solicit a diverse group of physicians from the Section & Societies to help inform our consultation efforts. After the formal consultation period ends, there is an expectation that the Liaison Working Group will work with ICBC towards a continuous improvement model to identify new issues and offer solutions related to ICBC’s new way of doing business.
What topics will be covered in consultations between government, ICBC and Doctors of BC?
We will be covering areas such as:
Informing a new pathway to care under the Enhanced Care model.
Defining processes and any form changes with a focus on reducing administrative burden and inefficiencies.
Identifying mechanisms for education and training for physicians.
How does Enhanced Care coverage change how ICBC uses independent medical examinations (IME)?
ICBC will continue to access independent services to justly administer claims in some cases. There will be a continued, but lesser need for these services in the future.
However, since the new model is set to be in place May 2021, many outstanding cases will require IMEs, and ICBC expects opened claims will take approximately five to seven years to close (under the existing system). The role of Specialists will be a topic of consultation with Doctors of BC.
Whose job is it to explain what care and recovery benefits patients are entitled to?
New legislation being put forward by the B.C. government will mean that ICBC will be required, by law, to advise and assist every British Columbian with their claim and ensure that every person is informed about, and receives, all the benefits to which they are entitled. Further enhancements to ICBCs online resources will continue to support customers in providing the information they need in their recovery.
How will the Registered Care Advisor (RCA) role be impacted by the new system changes?
Government and ICBC will be consulting with physicians to further determine the role of RCAs moving forward.
How does ICBC plan to balance cost-effectiveness with clinical autonomy and an evidence-informed approach?
ICBC will have physicians (third-party medical advisors) to support ICBC claims staff in navigating difficult and complex cases, while also providing support to physicians treating those patients. Government and ICBC will consult with stakeholders in the healthcare and disability advocacy communities to further understand the role of medical advisors moving forward.
What supports will be in place for return-to-work?
It is anticipated that return-to-work programs and vocational supports will play a more pivotal role under Enhanced Care coverage and will be topics of consultation.
Will there be any opportunity for integration with WorkSafeBC?
ICBC and WorkSafeBC in conjunction with Doctors of BC are exploring opportunities to improve current processes, including forms and administration functions. These enhancements would provide more streamlined processes for clinicians completing reports and for administrative staff processing payments.
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