'Misleading' out-of-country MSP rules leaves Vancouverite with huge bill
Ross McLaughlin and Sandra Hermiston, CTV Vancouver
Published Monday, April 3, 2017 6:00AM PDT
Last Updated Monday, April 3, 2017 7:33PM PDT
A Vancouver man who suffered a heart attack while travelling to the U.K. to get married has been left to pay unexpected medical expenses.
When David Abbott felt pressure in his chest that wouldn’t go away, he was taken to the hospital in Manchester. One stent and three days later, he received his hospital bill for 7,100 British pounds, or about $12,000 Canadian.
He wasn’t concerned about the bill because he read the B.C. Medical Services Plan brochure before he travelled, which stated, “MSP will help pay for unexpected insured services you receive outside of Canada.”
He thought that meant he was covered.
"B.C. medical will cover you anywhere in the world at B.C. prices," Abbott explained.
And he’s right, B.C. will cover what the services cost here. But instead of receiving a cheque for $12,000, he received a payout of $225 for his three-day hospital stay.
"I could have stayed in a motel for $75 a night," he argued.
NDP Health Critic Judy Darcy says it's outrageous.
“An acute care hospital bed in Canada ranges between $1,200 and $1,700 a day and they're going to pay for $75 a day?" questioned Darcy, “"It says very, very clearly in the MSP rules that they will be covered for unexpected medical costs."
The Ministry of Health told CTV News in an email statement, "To process a claim, an itemized breakdown of the services provided is required. If the individual is able to provide a more detailed list of expenses and services provided by physicians, we can look at this request again.”
Abbott asked, but the U.K. public health system doesn't break it down that way. All they could give him was this description of medical care.
And ironcially the province is asking something of Abbott that isn't even provided to visitors to Canada who may need emergeny medical services.
Vancouver Coastal Health told CTV News that it bills a per diem rate and a cost of procedure but doesn't break it down further.
"The government should work with them to help to solve this problem rather than throwing up barriers," said Darcy.
The province does have a published list of what it pays for medical services and Vancouver Coastal Health was able to look at Abbott’s bill to figure it out.
The grand total was $16,500, more than Abbott's claim. He just wants the province to pay.
"If they're not prepared to do that then please change the wording on your website because it's misleading," said Abbott.
Nowhere on the government’s website does it say you have to break down medical expenses line item by line item to match B.C.’s medical coding or your claim won't be paid.
And in a separate email to CTV News the Ministry of Health says it made the determination to ask for more detailed breakdown based on its 'interpretation' of the governing acts - Medical and Health Care Services Regulation and Medical Protection Act. However, we saw nothing in the governing sections that specifically stated a detailed breakdown of services was required.
Abbott can appeal the claim and the NDP health critic is also taking up his case.
As for travel medical insurance? Abbott didn’t think he’d need it to travel to the U.K. since it has a similar public health system.
The Ministry of Health does recommend you get travel insurance to cover any shortfalls from what it would pay. Abbott says he was willing to pay the difference, if there was any. He just didn't expect to pay all of it.