The much-anticipated package of auto insurance reforms was introduced earlier this month by Finance Minister Dwight Duncan, putting the choice of medical coverage into the hands of the driver.
Basically, drivers will get less coverage for medical and rehabilitation treatments for non-catastrophic injuries suffered in motor vehicle accidents. The province is cutting basic medical and rehabilitation benefits in half, from $100,000 to $50,000.
Drivers will still be able to purchase $100,000 or even $1 million in non-catastrophic medical and rehabilitation benefits after the changes come into effect next summer. Other benefits can also be added on including attendant care, housekeeping and income replacement.
The $50,000 medical and rehab coverage will match benefits offered in Alberta and New Brunswick. In P.E.I., Nova Scotia and Newfoundland there is no higher level than $25,000 for catastrophic injuries. In Ontario that amount will stay at $1 million.
Already the changes are controversial. Health-care experts are concerned that the changes may leave people without the coverage they need to fully recover from collisions, thus putting more strain on the public health system.
Dorianne Sauve, CEO of the Ontario Physiotherapy Association (OPA), said in an interview with the media that many serious injuries, including multiple fractures fall under the non-catastrophic category. Pelvic fractures can mean weeks in the hospital and the need for walkers and home modifications, for example.
The proposed changes also remove the injured person’s right to get a rebuttal assessment if the insurer’s health-care expert disagrees with the claimant’s physician in the original assessment.