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Benefits changes to acupuncture services take effect this summer

On April 1, 2013, acupuncture became a recognized registered profession in Ontario, and all practicing acupuncturists are now required to be registered with the College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists of Ontario. Newfoundland and Labrador also announced in October 2012 that it would be making the change; practitioners in that province are required to register with the College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists of Newfoundland and Labrador.

For benefits plan members and sponsors, these legislative changes may have a carryover effect to what is covered under your benefits plan. Great-West Life, Sun Life Financial and Empire Life have all released statements that, going forward, claims for treatment from non-registered acupuncture practitioners will be declined.

The effective date of the eligibility change may differ from provider to provide: Great West Life’s change will take effect July 1, 2013, to coincide with the grace period that practicing acupuncturists in both Ontario and Newfoundland and Labrador have to register with their provincial colleges;  Empire Life’s change will take effect June 1, 2013; and Sun Life Financial has not given a confirmed date, but has said that once the final list of registered practitioners is published, changes to eligibility will take effect.

If you receive acupuncture services, check with your benefits provider to determine if the changes affect you, and if, so, on what date the eligibility requirements will change. Note that if your acupuncturist is not registered by the required date, future claims from this practitioner will likely be declined – even though past claims from the same acupuncturist may have been covered.

To ensure you don’t lose benefits coverage for acupuncture services, check to see if your acupuncturist is registered with your province’s college by the cut-off date of July 1, 2013. If his or her business is not listed, seek out a new, registered acupuncturist for future treatments.

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