Insurance industry proposals would impact Rural Alberta the most

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The insurance industry campaign to have Albertans pay for more for insurance but get less in coverage would hurt rural Albertans the most. This is because reduced coverage for injuries means less treatment options would be available for rural Albertans in their communities. A no-fault-type insurance system means no recourse for rural Albertans but to travel, incur out-of-pocket costs, and visit facilities in major centres to receive care to recover from an auto injury.

In the absence of a total overhaul of the current medical system, a no-fault-type system that is the same for all residents in Alberta, regardless of location, is simply impractical. The treatment options available to residents in La Crete, High Level, Rocky Mountain House, and numerous remote centres are simply not the same as those available to residents in Edmonton and Calgary. A no-fault system is likely to result, for the purpose of reducing costs and increasing profits for insurers, in the centralization of treatment services.

All this results in lower access to treatment for the rural Albertans who paid the premiums for it.

Imagine this scenario for a minute:

You were in an accident – your minivan really didn’t stand a chance against the farm truck making an illegal turn. Unfortunately, your 6-year-old was strapped into his booster seat and hit the glass window. He seemed to be okay – at first. But a week later, worrying symptoms started appearing. Your family doctor said it was likely a concussion but, to be sure and to get the best treatment for his developing brain, your doctor wanted you to head down to the Children’s Hospital in Calgary. They’ve got a brain injury clinic there, you were told. Really cutting-edge stuff.

You want the very best for your son. But in the back of your mind, you just can’t see how this all is going to work. Calgary is an almost four-hour drive from Rocky Mountain House. It’s hay season and your farm is still trying to make up ground from last year’s canola fiasco, crops left on the field all winter thanks to early snowfalls. For the sake of the entire family, no one can afford to leave the fields right now. Who can take time off? Where will the money come from for food, gas and accommodation? Who’s going to keep the wheels turning on the farm?

It’s too much. Juggling medical options, expenses, lost income, time away from home and regular responsibilities, new challenges as the doctors start to make plans for an extended treatment plan – with more eight-hour roundtrips on the horizon.

Does any of this sound fair to you?

Shouldn’t people in rural Alberta have some options? Shouldn’t these folks – who already grapple with so much outside their control – be able to rely on a fair and equitable insurance system that lets them take advantage of the treatments their premiums pay for? Should the farmers, ranchers, small-business owners and families of rural Alberta be penalized for where they live? After all, these are the same people who put food on our tables. We need them. They work hard for us.

Rural Albertans, like all Albertans, deserve a fair insurance system. After all, we’re paying for it.

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