Frequently Asked Questions

The following Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) will answer some of your questions regarding laboratory services in the province.

 

General Laboratory Services FAQs

Where can a patient go for a laboratory test?

  • Patients can bring laboratory requisitions to many of the approved hospital and community laboratory facilities in the province.
  • Approved laboratory facilities will complete the requested laboratory test(s) after verifying enrollment with the Medical Services Plan through the BC Services Card.

What laboratory tests are covered by the Ministry of Health?  

  • Laboratory services are benefits if they are medically required services provided through an approved laboratory facility by or under the supervision of a laboratory physician who is acting at the request of a referring practitioner.
  • Physicians/health care practitioners must advise patients if a test is not insured.

Can patients access their laboratory test results online?  

  • The choice to provide results electronically is made by the laboratory service providers.
  • My ehealth is a complimentary outpatient service provided by the following laboratory service providers: LifeLabs, Vancouver Coastal Health Authority, and Providence Health Care.

Can patients request copies of laboratory test results?

What is the Laboratory Services Act?

  • The Laboratory Services Act is a new statute that brings the governance, funding and accountability for laboratory services under one authority to support a quality, coordinated and sustainable laboratory system.
  • Previously, two separate statutes provided oversight for laboratory services – the Hospital Insurance Act covered hospital services and the Medicare Protection Act covered laboratory services provided in the community.

When does the Laboratory Services Act take effect?

  • The Laboratory Services Act came into force on October 1st, 2015.

How does the Laboratory Services Act impact patients?

  • The new legislation has no impact on patient access to laboratory services or quality of care.
  • Medical Services Plan beneficiaries will continue to receive medically necessary laboratory tests.                                               

Is this just a move towards privatizing B.C.’s laboratory system?

  • Not at all. The Laboratory Services Act ensures that the public has access to medically necessary laboratory testing.
  • Currently, public and privately owned laboratories provide insured laboratory testing and this will continue under the Laboratory Services Act.

Will patient safety be compromised under the new legislation?

  • The provincial government is committed to ensuring we have a quality laboratory system in place and patient safety is our highest priority.
  • Existing accreditation and safety standards will remain in place and be unchanged. All laboratory facilities must be accredited by the Diagnostic Accreditation Program, a program of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia.

Who will be responsible and accountable for laboratories under this legislation?

  • Under the Laboratory Services Act, the Minister of Health will be responsible for the governance and accountability, audit, provision of benefits, and compensation for all laboratory services in the province. This is typical of most health related legislation which vests authority in the Minister of Health.
  • In an approved laboratory facility, laboratory services are provided under the supervision of a laboratory physician.

 

back to top

 

Fee-for-service FAQs

What does the Laboratory Services Act mean for outpatient laboratory services?

  • There should be no change in service from the point of view of patients in the community. A priority with any change to the system is a seamless transition for patients.
  • The Laboratory Services Act does not affect the ability of doctors and other health care practitioners, such as midwives and nurse practitioners, to request appropriate and necessary tests for their patients.

Does this mean that laboratory services will no longer be covered by MSP? 

  • There is no intention to remove laboratory tests as a health care benefit.
  • Laboratory tests will continue to be paid by the province, just not under the Medical Services Plan.
  • All MSP beneficiaries will continue to be insured for all medically required laboratory testing.

What happens to family practitioners who provide laboratory tests in their office?

  • In-office laboratory testing provided by family practitioners is not covered by the new legislation. Family practitioners who provide a limited menu of laboratory tests (e.g. pregnancy tests) will continue to be able to provide this testing in their offices and these tests will continue to be funded by the Medical Services Plan.

 

back to top

 

Registered Nurse (Certified) FAQs

Why is a MSP Practitioner Number required?

  • The RN(C)’s MSP practitioner number must appear on the laboratory requisition that is given to the patient.
  • The MSP practitioner number authorizes a laboratory to process requests for outpatient laboratory services requested by by an RN(C) and submit a claim for those services.

Who is eligible to enroll for an MSP practitioner number?

  • RN(C)s who are in good standing with the CRNBC and certified by the CRNBC in at least one of the certified practice designations: RN Remote Nursing, Sexually Transmitted Infections, or Contraceptive Management and provide care to outpatients are eligible to enrol for an MSP Practitioner Number.
  • RN(C)s are advised to check with their employer before enrolling.

How does an RN(C) enroll?

If a health care practitioner has an existing MSP practitioner number do they need to apply for another?

  • A registered nurse or a nurse practitioner with an existing MSP practitioner number, who becomes certified as an RN(C) and is practising as an RN(C) needs to apply for a second practitioner number to in order to perform the RN(C) laboratory test referral services.

What Laboratory Services can a RN(C) request?

  • Please refer to the RN(C) Schedule of Benefits for a list of approved laboratory fee items.

 

back to top

 

Operator Payment Administration (OPA) FAQs

When should an operator payment administration form be submitted?

  • An operator payment administration form must be submitted to link a practitioner number to a facility for the purpose of submitting laboratory services claims for payment, for the laboratory modality only. All other diagnostic modalities will continue to use the Medical Services Plan Assignment of Payment form(s) for restricted diagnostic outpatient medical services.

How is an operator payment administration form submitted?

  • Once an operator payment administration form has been completed and authorized, please follow the step by step directions listed in the user guide found on the laboratory services website at: www.gov.bc.ca/laboratoryservices

When can billing for services related to the operator payment administration form start?

  • Allow 30 days to process an operator payment administration form. If a claim is submitted using a practitioner number where the link has not yet been established, the claim will be rejected. An operator payment administration form can be submitted up to three (3) months in advance of the service date, as long as the appropriate dates of services are indicated on the form.
  • To inquire about the status of an operator payment administration form contact Health Insurance BC’s toll-free line at 1-866-456-6950.

Can multiple facilities and practitioners be added to one operator payment administration form?

  • Yes, the operator payment administration form allows for up to five (5) facility names, payment numbers, and facility numbers. The form also allows for up to two (2) laboratory physicians. Depending on operational requirements an operator may have more than one physician linked to the facility. The physician chosen to link to the facility should be:
    • a laboratory physician (as defined in the Laboratory Services Act) and authorized to practise by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia, in one or more of the following specialties:
      • general, anatomical or hematological pathology
      • medical biochemistry
      • medical genetics
      • medical  microbiology
      • neuropathology
    • who will be registered with the College for the term of the OPA form (up to 4 years), and
    • is not the operators designated representative/signing authority.

If the facility payment number changes, does a new operator payment administration form need to be submitted?

  • Yes, a revised operator payment administration form is required. Please send the updated form to Ministry of Health for processing. It will need to be scanned and uploaded at: www.gov.bc.ca/labservicesupload
  • See question #2 “How is an operator payment administration form submitted”? for further details.

If the facility will be providing a new service, is a new operator payment administration form required?

  • To start providing a new service, the facility must be accredited by the Diagnostic Accreditation Program (DAP), a program of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia, and approved by the Ministry of Health, to submit claims for that service. When submitting claims for the new service, the operator must ensure that the claim can be made using the practitioner number already linked to the facility. If not, a new practitioner number must be linked to the facility using an operator payment administration form.

Should current Assignment of Payment forms be cancelled, and new operator payment administration forms be resubmitted?

  • No, current Assignment of Payment forms will stay active until expiry. However, after October 1, 2015 the new operator payment administration form should be used to link a practitioner to a facility.

Does an operator payment administration form need to be submitted for the purposes of billing fee item 93120 – Electrocardiogram technical component?

  • Fee item 93120 – Electrocardiogram (ECG) technical component will stay under the authority of the Medical Services Commission (MSC), therefore facilities should continue to use the Assignment of Payment (PDF, 528KB) form to link a practitioner to their facility in order to bill for the technical component of ECG.

Why is a practitioner number required for submission of claims by an operator?

  • When submitting claims through Teleplan to HIBC for outpatient fee-for-service laboratory services, a valid practitioner number and an approved facility number is required for the claim to be processed. Therefore, even though the operator is responsible for the accuracy and appropriateness of the claims made, a valid practitioner number must still be linked to the facility and used when submitting claims.
  • If you have any further questions, please email: labservices@gov.bc.ca

 

back to top