Chiropractors, dentists, optometrists, and a number of other professional groups warn that a tax on employer-paid insurance premiums could end up reducing access to coverage.
A coalition of healthcare service providers says that the $2.9 billion that the government does not collect by taxing health and dental plans encourages employers to offer more than more than $32.2 billion in health care benefits.
"Taxation of these benefits will have huge impacts on access to care," comments Ondina Love, CEO of the Canadian Dental Hygienists Association, and co-chair of HEAL, an organization representing 650,000 healthcare providers. "When benefits were subject to provincial income tax in Quebec in 1993, almost 20% of employers dropped their coverage, including up to 50% of small employers. This loss of coverage can significantly impact the lowest paid employees who will have trouble paying for drugs, dental and needed health care out of pocket."
Love suggests that, given the choice, younger and healthier employee may opt out of more costly group plans; with older and sicker employees opting in, premiums are bound rise further. "Employers who continue to offer these plans may reduce coverage to control costs – this will be keenly felt because coverage limits for psychological services are often already too low to cover an evidence-based amount of service," she says.
The groups represented by HEAL include the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists, the Canadian Association of Optometrists, the Canadian Chiropractic Association, the Canadian Dental Association, the Canadian Dentist Hygienists Association, the Canadian Physiotherapy Association, the Canadian Psychological Association, the Dietitians of Canada, and Speech-Language & Audiology Canada.