British Columbia Medical Services watchdog looks at Telus Health’s LifePlus program [Update]

Picture: Telus; Reception at the TELUS Healthcare Center located on Nelson Street in Vancouver, BC

According to Vancouver SunBritish Columbia’s Medical Services Commission has launched an investigation into the private fee-based services offered by Telus Health to determine whether they allow patients to skip the line, which would violate the Canada Health Care Act health.

Patients can use the Telus Health MyCare app, formerly known as Babylon by Telus Health, for virtual doctor visits, and the company will bill the BC Medical Services Plan.

However, a Telus Health LifePlus plan is a subscription service that promises enhanced, personalized care with “head-to-toe” exams, “an in-depth review of lifestyle factors and medical history” and access to specialists, such as physiotherapists and dietitians, in traditional brick-and-mortar care centres. The service can allow 24/7 access to a doctor or expedited medical tests.

Fearing the practice could create a two-tier medical system, British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix in February asked the Medial Services Commission to review Telus Health “to confirm that they do not allow no queuing for fee-paying patients, which is prohibited by Canadian law.

“I’ve actually had people reach out to me… expressing concern about it,” Dix said during a debate on his department’s budget in May. “We have raised this issue and taken action on it.”

Sonya Lockyer, vice president of Telus Health Care Centers and Pharmacy, said in a statement that the company “fully supports and is committed to publicly funded healthcare as the foundation of our healthcare system in Canada”.

Lockyer noted that Telus Health Care Centers do not charge for primary care services, adding that they “primarily focus on employer-provided health and wellness services that are not covered under the MSP”.

When Vancouver resident Mark Winston’s family doctor closed his clinic and moved to Telus Health, the 72-year-old had two choices: find another doctor or pay $4,650 in the first year and $3,600 per year thereafter for Telus Health’s LifePlus plan.

“As a citizen of British Columbia, I was horrified to be asked to pay thousands of dollars a year for what should be free for all British Columbians,” Winston said. “That’s not true.”

The BC Medical Services Commission contacted Telus and other private health companies as part of the investigation. Telus submitted a brief and the Commission will present its findings to Dix. The health minister said he wanted to see the conclusion of the review within a month.

Other privacy issues with Telus Health in the past include its mobile app which was previously investigated by Alberta’s Privacy Commissioner in 2020. The review found that the app ignored privacy laws.

Telus Health updated its MyCare app for iOS and Android on Tuesday, bringing what it says are “a few changes for the better.”

Update June 3, 2022: Following the publication, Telus Health contacted iPhones in Canada to clarify that the company is not currently under investigation.

‘We received a request for information from the British Columbia Medical Services Commission which we responded to almost three months ago and have yet to receive an official response,’ a gatekeeper said. word of Telus in an emailed statement.

“Our services do not create a two-tier health system,” the spokesperson added. “The [LifePlus] the fee must cover the costs of health services not covered by the MSP.