Letter: This is what is happening with the rumours of lab tests being de-listed from OHIP

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Health

Ontario Health Coalition Update

You have likely heard of the rumours and media buzz about Ford delisting labwork from OHIP. We have spent the last few days collecting evidence from patients who had been charged for lab work and here is what we have found.

While it is true the Ford government is privatizing a whole bunch of health care services, they did not recently delist a slew of blood tests. This is what’s happening, some tests aren’t covered by OHIP because they aren’t medically necessary. Now, arguably some things that aren’t covered should be covered. So we’ve compiled a list of tests for which Ontarians are paying to see what the evidence is. But this is not a new cut done by Ford. In 2019 (effective 2020) they made changes to two tests. They’ve been trying to switch the AST with the ALT test as a result of a question of medical effectiveness. The ALT test is covered. The AST is only covered under the following criteria: a specialist (not GP) must order the test and indicate that it should be publicly covered. The tests are not for everyone– there needs to be actual medical need.

Under the Canada Health Act medically needed services are covered by OHIP and extra patient charges are forbidden. Companies want 1000s of tests on the list to make money. So expert advisors to the Ministry look at the evidence of effectiveness and outcomes.

There is another issue. When our public hospitals had outpatient labs & we used to go get our tests there, there were virtually no charges. But they were systematically closed and privatized. When they privatized the public hospitals’ outpatient labs (from the Harris government through to the McGuinty era mostly) everyone was forced to go to the private labs that charge what they can, and definitely charge for anything not expressly covered by OHIP. But again that isn’t Ford’s doing.

While there is certainly an issue about burgeoning fees for physician-ordered lab tests, and we will do a deeper dive into those charges, the bottom line is that we cannot find any evidence that the Ford government recently delisted a bunch of blood tests.

Natalie Mehra
Executive Director
Ontario Health Coalition