The Provincial Government will be enforcing some changes to the way physicians can bill out their services in the near future, even though the two parties had not reached an agreement during their negotiations.

These changes will save the province a lot of overage and duplicate charges, said Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro.

“Our province is facing cost overruns of $2 billion in the next three years due solely to physician compensation. If left unaddressed, these costs would impede efforts to reduce surgical wait times, improve mental health and addiction services, and expand the number of continuing care beds. Despite repeated efforts, the AMA failed to put forward alternatives that would hold the line on physician compensation. The new framework announced today will prevent cost overruns, allow our province to improve services for patients, and still ensure that Alberta’s doctors are among the highest-paid physicians in all of Canada.”

Funding for physician services will remain the same, sitting at $5.4 billion. The biggest and quite possibly the most controversial change is phased in reduction and the eventual deletion of Alberta’s complex modifier billing system.

The complex modifier billing system was introduced over 10 years ago. The system has allowed doctors to bill the province for patients that needed extra time in their offices due to more complex medical needs.

Currently, doctors bill $41 as a base fee for each patient visit no matter the length. If a visit lasts more than 15 minutes, doctors can extend by 10 minutes and bill the province a complex modifier fee of $18 making it a total of $59.

Starting on April 1st, the fee will be reduced by 50 percent making it $9, for a total fee of $50. This won’t be charged until the visit has surpassed 25 minutes. It will be eliminated in 2021.

Other changes will see drivers over the age of 74 will have to pay for their medical driving exam, as well as a cap on the number of patients doctors can see in a day.