Physiotherapists (or physical therapists), using judgement and techniques based on education, science and research, work with patients to help them walk and move freely after injury; recover mobility after illness or surgery; manage chronic diseases like arthritis and diabetes; and much more. Your physiotherapist will work with you to put together a treatment plan for your condition or injury, so that you can get back to enjoying life and the activities you love.

     

    No. Physiotherapists are university trained medical professionals and primary care practitioners. This means that you have direct access to physiotherapy without a doctor's referral.

    In some circumstances, such as publicly funded community physiotherapy clinics, or certain extended health plans, a doctor or nurse practitioner referral is required to access funding. Consult your insurance provider to learn whether a referral is needed in your specific case prior to commencing treatment.

    There are four main treatment routes:

    a) Physiotherapy clinics - privately funded

    b) Home visits - privately funded

    c) Hospitals (In-patient services and out-patient services) - publicly funded

    d) Home Health, Home Care - publicly funded

    e) Paediatric services - publicly and privately funded 

    For further details on a route, please select the respective section below.

    By contacting a private clinic in your community, you can access immediate care.  Private clinic visits are also an immediate option for those on hospital out-patient waitlists as they await access to care. 

    Click here to learn how you can Find a Physio using our online directory.

    Click here to learn how you can Find a Clinic using our online directory.

    By contacting a private physiotherapist who offers home visits, you can access immediate care. Private home visits are also an immediate option for those on hospital out-patient waitlists as they await access to care, and those with mobility issues.

    Click here to learn how you can Find a Physio who provides home visits, using our online directory.

    Physiotherapy in hospitals may be provided to inpatients staying in hospital or in an outpatient clinic. Many outpatient clinics provide rehabilitation programs for people who, for example, have had surgery, or are recovering from strokes or heart attacks. Not all hospitals in BC have outpatient services that will meet your specific needs. Although treatment is publicly funded, there may be additional charge for supplies such as splints and dressings.

    An inpatient is a patient who stays in a hospital while under treatment.

    An outpatient is a patient who receives medical treatment without being admitted to a hospital. Patients who have been discharged from the hospital are also regarded as outpatients.

    Consult your local hospital to learn about the physiotherapy services available in your area. Or visit the BC Ministry of Health website to contact your local health authority.

    Home based physiotherapy services are available to support early discharge from a hospital or to avoid going to a hospital or care facility. Home Health supports individuals and families to self manage, and targets post-surgical care, older adults with declining mobility, and those at end-of-life. Limited physiotherapy service is available and eligibility criteria apply.

    To see if you qualify, contact the Home Health/Home Care program at your health authority. Visit the BC Ministry of Health website to find your health authority. Some physiotherapists provide home based physiotherapy privately. See "Accessing Physiotherapy - Home Visits".

    Children and youth in BC who have, or are at risk of developmental delay or disability are eligible for publicly funded physiotherapy services in their community. Anyone may refer a child to an Early Intervention Therapy Program (0-5 years of age) or School-Aged Therapy Program. For more information on how to access these services in your community, or to find a physiotherapist through each of these programs, visit the BC Ministry of Children and Family Development website

    There are also private clinics and community-based therapists that specialize in working with children with a range of mobility concerns (e.g. sports injuries, motor delays). Fees are set individually.

    Click here to learn how you can Find a Physio with an area of expertise in paediatrics using our online directory.

     

    Yes. On January 1, 2002, physiotherapy was de-listed by the government from the British Columbia Medical Services Plan (MSP), meaning that the majority of people in BC must pay for physiotherapy through extended health benefits, their own money, or a combination of the two.

    However, according to a 2012 nationwide survey, over three quarters of British Columbians have supplementary health benefits from group insurance plans that include physiotherapy*. Coverage can range from $200 to $500 per person, per year**, and up to $750 for some plans***. Low-income people receive supplementary coverage for physiotherapy through MSP Premium Assistance (details below).

    Clinic fees reflect the time spent directly with the physiotherapist. Fees are set individually and vary depending on the length of direct physiotherapist time (generally 20-60 min) and the treatment needed. Cost per visit generally fall between $63 and $190.


    *http://www.healthcoalitionab.ca/PDF/reports-studies/CMA-Benefits-Research-Survey_en.pdf (Ipsos Reid Survey, June 2012 - Supplementary Health Benefits Research Final Report June 2012 Commissioned by the Canadian Medical Association, the Canadian Health Sciences Research Foundation, and the Institute of Health Economics, Alberta Canada) - page 13. Last accessed Sept 3 2015.
    **True Benefits. How Much Do Employee Benefits Cost? http://www.truebenefits.ca/news/how-much-do-employee-benefits-cost. Last accessed Sept 3 2015.
    ***UBC. Extended Health Benefits. http://www.hr.ubc.ca/benefits/extended-health/. Last accessed Sept 3 2015.

    The user fee is the cost difference that a clinic charges patients when third party payer/insurer rates are below the clinic fee. The user fee plus the insurer rate reflects the total cost of the visit.

    Examples of third party payers: ICBC, MSP, WorkSafeBC.

    I was injured at work, am I covered by WorkSafeBC?

    For all work-related injuries, WorkSafeBC will pay for your initial visit as long as your claim is registered with WorkSafeBC and you have a claim number. Further physiotherapy treatment may be covered after your claim is approved. A referral from your doctor is not necessary. You must ensure that you seek treatment from a physiotherapist who has a contract with WorkSafeBC to treat Injured Workers. On approved claims, there is no fee for service.

    After an injury you must:

    1. Report your injury to your employer.
    2. Seek medical attention for your injury as soon as possible. Be sure to tell your doctor that your injury is work-related.
    3. Report your injury to WorkSafeBC as soon as possible:
    4. Book your initial physiotherapy appointment, and notify the physiotherapy clinic that your injury is work related.

     

    A new service model is in effect (started June 1st, 2014). Learn how you can return to work faster, and how you can locate a physiotherapist who can treat BC injured workers.

    View contracted physiotherapy provides in BC by region or use the Find a Clinic search and check off the Contracted with WSBC box.

    I was injured in a motor vehicle accident (MVA), am I covered by ICBC?

    You are entitled to accident benefits whether you are at fault or not. There is no need for an initial doctor's referral if the accident is recent and/or you have not had any previous treatment.   In most cases, you're entitled to physiotherapy treatment, and your adjustor will let you know what will be covered.  For more information visit the ICBC website.

    A portion of the physiotherapy fee will usually be billed to ICBC by the clinic, using the Teleplan electronic billing system. A supplemental clinic user fee is typically charged to you when receiving treatment post-MVA. This fee is your responsibility. The fee is determined by the therapist or clinic.  Ask your adjustor when and if you will be reimbursed for the fees.

    If you have coverage through ICBC, you may begin physiotherapy treatment immediately after you report your claim to ICBC. Visit the ICBC website to learn how. The physiotherapist does not need to check with ICBC for prior approval – up to the established limit of 20 visits. Provide your physiotherapist with your ICBC claim number, your adjustor's name, and phone number of your adjustor to begin treatment.

    If you are visiting a physiotherapist for an injury or condition that is not work injury related or motor vehicle accident related, you may have the option to pay by MSP (Medical Services Plan) Premium Assistance.

    According to the BC Ministry of Health, over 1.2 million British Columbians receive MSP premium assistance of between 20 and 100 per cent of their premiums. Over 800,000 pay no premiums at all, with 37 per cent of BC seniors receiving some kind of premium assistance in 2012**.

    For MSP beneficiaries receiving premium assistance, MSP will contribute $23 per visit for a combined annual limit of 10 visits each calendar year towards: physiotherapy, chiropractic, massage therapy, naturopathy, acupuncture, and non-surgical podiatry*. 

    The clinic you attend will be able to check your Care Card and confirm in advance whether you qualify as an MSP beneficiary. A user fee may be charged to the patient and is the responsibility of the patient. Fees are determined by the clinic.

    Questions about eligibility, extra charges or reimbursement for insured services should be directed to Health Insurance BC.


    *http://www.health.gov.bc.ca/msp/infoben/faqas.html#suppben 
    **http://www.health.gov.bc.ca/msp/legislation/msc-annual-report-2010-11.pdf"

    If you are visiting a physiotherapist for an injury or condition that is not work injury related or motor vehicle accident related, you may be able to pay using your Extended Benefits Plan.

    According to a 2012 nationwide survey, over 80 per cent of Canadians have some form of extended health care coverage*. Four out of five of those surveyed have coverage for treatments including dental, vision and other services, including physiotherapy**. Physiotherapy treatment is generally included within employer-paid or individually purchased health benefit plans. The amount of coverage and access to physiotherapy varies amongst plans. Check your plan and contact your health benefit provider for coverage details. Your plan will indicate if your insurance company requires you to obtain a doctor's referral in order to get reimbursed for physiotherapy. The process usually involves paying for fees up front and submitting the receipts for reimbursement as per rules of your individual plan. Some clinics may be able to bill certain plans directly on your behalf. Consult your clinic to find out.  


    *http://www.healthcoalitionab.ca/PDF/reports-studies/CMA-Benefits-Research-Survey_en.pdf (Ipsos Reid Survey, June 2012 - Supplementary Health Benefits Research Final Report June 2012 Commissioned by the Canadian Medical Association, the Canadian Health Sciences Research Foundation, and the Institute of Health Economics, Alberta Canada) - page 13. Last accessed on Sept 3 2015.
    **http://www.healthcoalitionab.ca/PDF/reports-studies/CMA-Benefits-Research-Survey_en.pdf (Ipsos Reid Survey, June 2012 - Supplementary Health Benefits Research Final Report June 2012 Commissioned by the Canadian Medical Association, the Canadian Health Sciences Research Foundation, and the Institute of Health Economics, Alberta Canada) - page 6. Last accessed on Sept 3 2015.

    If you are not eligible for the coverage outlined above and do not have coverage under a health benefits plan, you will need to pay for your treatment. Fees are set by each clinic separately, as are payment options. Consult your clinic to learn more.

    Is there disability assistance for physiotherapy?

    When you’re on disability assistance the amount of financial support you receive depends on the size of your family. It also depends on whether another person in your family has a Persons with Disabilities designation.

    With this designation, you and your family members may be able access Extended Medical Therapies, including physical therapy. In order to access these services, a medical practitioner or nurse practitioner must confirm an acute need and there must be no other resources available. This supplement is available under the Employment and Assistance Regulation and Employment and Assistance for Persons with Disabilities Regulation.

    For more information on Extended Medical Therapies coverage and Disability Assistance, visit the Province of British Columbia website.

    The Physiotherapy Association of British Columbia (PABC) recommends fee guidelines based its regular review of provincial market rates, and the Canadian Physiotherapy Association’s national cost of business study which determines the Cost Per Average Visit (calculated by dividing a clinic’s total annual costs by the total annual number of patient visits). With this data, PABC members independently determine their rates which they adjust according to variances in a clinic’s cost of providing service and the prevailing market. Clinic fees reflect time spent directly with the physiotherapist. 

    View the recommended fee guidelines for 2017.