Ottawa, February 12, 2021 – Recently, members have contacted both the Canadian Physiotherapy Association (CPA) and the Ontario Physiotherapy Association (OPA) with a concern about changes to Manulife’s FollowMe Plan, including the removal of physiotherapy coverage for those over 65 and the addition of a requirement of referral for coverage where one did not previously exist, effective March 1, 2021. Per an email to the CPA and the OPA on February 12, 2021 from Wally Thompson, VP, Head of Distribution, Affinity Markets at Manulife, in response to ongoing advocacy efforts, they will no longer be implementing these changes.
“On behalf of our members across Ontario, consumers of Manulife’s FollowMe plan, and the physiotherapy profession writ large, we’re ecstatic to see Manulife recognize the importance of physiotherapy and removing what would have been incremental barriers to access of physiotherapy services,” said Viivi Riis, President of the CPA. “We know the importance of packages like Manulife’s FollowMe Plan for Canadians in ensuring they have access to critical rehabilitation services like physiotherapy for the improvement of outcomes, and aging in place, and this is an excellent example of CPA’s role in working with insurers like Manulife to emphasize the importance of access to physiotherapy coverage.”
“The CPA has been hard at work, alongside our Branch colleagues, including the OPA, to ensure that our advocacy efforts are targeting and addressing the needs of our members,” said John-Paul Cody-Cox, Chief Executive Officer of the CPA. “We value the feedback of our members and the important role our advocacy plays in improving access to physiotherapy for the improved health of Canadians. I'd like to especially recognize Joe Frederico for all of his support, insight, and persistence as we managed through this change.”
Earlier this year, Manulife announced that it had made changes to the FollowMe policy for physiotherapy, which would remove coverage for those over 65 and require a referral for access to physiotherapy where one did not previously exist as of March 1, 2021.
Our Advocacy Efforts
As our members know, both of these decisions would create barriers to access and appeared to have been made based on misinformation. The CPA and the OPA were in touch with Manulife to clarify that only a very small portion of Ontario’s seniors can access publicly funded physiotherapy through the Community Physiotherapy Clinic program (approximately 2-4% of the total number of seniors in the province) and asked them to reverse their decision.
On behalf of Manulife policy holders who have contacted the Association with concerns, as well as our physiotherapy professionals across Ontario who rely on these plans for their patients’ coverage, the CPA and the OPA have worked together to communicate to Manulife the true impact of these changes and to request reversal of these decisions on behalf of those who have, in good faith, purchased these insurance products.
On February 12, 2021, the CPA and the OPA were contacted by Manulife, who thanked us for the valuable feedback in response to the recent changes to Manulife’s FollowMe plans. Manulife considered the insights shared in relation to the proposed plan changes and they emphasized their understanding of the importance of the physiotherapy benefit for seniors (65+). In response to the combined efforts of the OPA and the CPA, Manulife shared that they are removing these changes from the upcoming renewal and that, as of March 1, 2021, FollowMe customers will continue to have the same access to physiotherapy benefits with no new changes.
We’re In This Together
The CPA would like to thank its members for continuing to vocalize their concerns and needs with the Association and with the community writ large. We’d also like to thank the Ontario Physiotherapy Association for their continued collaboration, leadership, and guidance on issues in Ontario. Finally, we’d like to thank Manulife for their timely consideration of the evidence, recognition of the importance of physiotherapy, and expedient changes to their decision.
About the Canadian Physiotherapy Association
The Canadian Physiotherapy Association (CPA) represents over 16,000 physiotherapy professionals and students in Canada. In partnership with provincial and territorial Branches and practice Divisions, the CPA enables members to learn, share knowledge, and enhance physiotherapy practice. We provide resources, education, ideas, and advocacy to enable our professional community to better serve Canadians. The CPA celebrated its 100th Anniversary in 2020.
Learn more: physiotherapy.ca