Health Care Cost Recovery Act

What is it?

The Health Care Cost Recovery Act is a piece of legislation coming into force April 1, 2009. It allows the provincial government to recover the costs of treating an injured party directly from the wrongdoer (or the wrongdoer’s insurer). The purpose of the new law is to ensure that the costs of past and future health care of an injured or deceased person is borne by the person who caused the injury, not by the taxpaying public.

Does This Act Apply to Me?

If you are enrolled in the BC Medical Services Plan (MSP), and are injured by the wrongdoing of another person or persons, this Act very likely applies to you.

This Act will also apply to a deceased person, if the death was caused in whole or in part by the wrongdoing of another.

There are some situations where the Act does not apply:

  • The Health Care Cost Recovery Act specifically exempts motor vehicle accidents. However, there may be some cases, such as an accident involving an out of province insurer, where the Act may apply. Your lawyer will be able to review the facts to determine of the Act applies to you.
  • Additionally, the Act does not apply where there is a claim for personal injury or death caused by tobacco products. There is already a piece of legislation called the Tobacco Damages and Health Care Cost Recovery Act that takes care of this.
  • Lastly, claims for personal injury or death that arise out of workplace accidents are exempt if compensation is payable from the Workers Compensation Board.

What are the Effects of the Act?

As you may or may not know, there are a number of heads of damages that may be recoverable by a plaintiff in a personal injury case. These include damages for pain and suffering (non-pecuniary damages), loss of past income, loss of future earning capacity, cost of future care, cost of lost housekeeping capacity, and out of pocket expenses (special damages). This is effectively a new head of damage that your lawyer is obligated to claim on behalf of the government in your personal injury case.

What Are My Obligations?

You will be obligated to cooperate with the government by providing detailed information on treatments, doctors visits, medical tests, medications and other related procedures, even if you and your lawyer decide not to proceed with a lawsuit, or if you reach a settlement. The government can still sue the wrongdoer to collect the costs of your related health care even if you choose not to continue your action, and you must cooperate with that process. Your obligations may include attending for independent medical examinations or evaluations at the request of the Minister. These obligations exist whether or not your claim is proceeding through the court system, and may be on top of other medical visits and examinations that may be ongoing through your lawyer or through your insurer.