FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
PODIATRIST FEES AND BILLS
1. Does the CPodSBC set mandatory or recommended fees for Podiatric services ?
No. The CPodSBC does not impose or recommend the level of fees that should be charged for podiatric services.
Podiatrists are permitted to determine their fees and the College will not interfere in the absence of evidence that fees are so high as to be unconscionable.
2. Does the BC Medical Services Plan cover the cost of podiatric services ?
Partly. There is a degree of coverage for some podiatry services. Not all services have MSP coverage, and those that do are generally covered up to a certain limit.
For all patients, the MSP pays for surgery up to the maximum scheduled amount.
For patients who are on income assistance, MSP pays for a wider range of podiatric services, up to the maximum scheduled amount for each. These patients have coverage for up to 10 visits a year.
See the MSP podiatry fee schedule.
3. Are podiatrists permitted to bill on top of the amount that is paid by the Medical Services Plan ?
Yes. There are two main reasons.
One is that not all podiatry services are covered by MSP and for most patients, most podiatry care is not covered except for surgery up to certain limits.
In addition, a contributing factor is that MSP rates for podiatry have not been increased for about 25 years. Thus, even where MSP provides some coverage, the amount provided does not adequately address current day costs for practitioners, and for this reason most podiatrists will bill an additional amount to the patient over and above the MSP coverage.
4. Does the CPodSBC investigate complaints about Podiatric bills ?
Yes, if there is evidence of the following:
1. Charging for services that were not rendered.
2. Failure to provide a patient with a reasonable estimate of the cost of recommended medical services.
3. Failure to obtain informed consent for the medical services rendered and actions taken.
4. Fees that are excessive to the point of being unconscionable.
5. Failure to provide the patient with a fully itemized bill, upon the patient’s request.
6. Misleading advertising pertaining to the fees charged.
5. Can the College provide me with a remedy like a refund or bill reduction ?
No. The CPodSBC does not have the legal power to order a Podiatrist to refund or reduce a bill, or to compensate a patient. Those types of legal authorities fall to the civil courts.
In addition, the College itself cannot provide any compensation to a patient. That is not the nature of the College’s legal mandate.
6. Can my podiatrist refuse to see me again as a patient if I have an unpaid medical bill ?
Yes. The ability of a practitioner -patient can be compromised or break down over billing disputes. When the relationship is no longer capable of effective dialogue, the podiatrist has a right to terminate the relationship and it may be in the patient’s interests to do so.
However, a podiatrist must not refuse to treat a patient who needs urgent medical care and must provide assistance that is warranted and practicable in the circumstances to any person with an urgent need for medical care.
For more information, see the College policy on Ending the Podiatrist-Patient Relationship.
7. Is my podiatrist entitled to charge me for giving me a copy of my medical records ?
Yes, the Podiatrist is entitled to recover the reasonable cost of producing a copy of their medical records for a patient. What is reasonable will depend on the circumstances of the case; the factors would include the number of pages to be copied, cost of radiograph and photograph copies, cost of staff time, etc.
Again, the College would only investigate the amount charged where there is clear evidence that the charge is unconscionably high.
8. Can my podiatrist refuse to give me a copy of my medical records if I have an unpaid bill ?
No. As patients own the information contained in their patient files, they have a right to obtain a copy of their complete record on request. This includes requests to transfer records to other practitioners.
The legal obligation to provide copies of the records on request of the patient is not altered by the fact of an unpaid bill. A podiatrist may not withhold a patient’s records when the patient owes money for podiatry services. Fee disputes and other types of disagreements between the patient and practitioner are not grounds to withhold access to, or transfer of, patient records. Podiatrists have other legal avenues through which to deal with such matters.
9. Can my podiatrist refuse to give me my orthotics if I have an unpaid bill ?
Yes, if the bill is for the orthotics.