Coverage Matters: RD’s Unite!
By Amy Skeoch, MHSC, RD
Once upon a time, a very long time ago, I landed my first job that offered coverage for health benefits. How exciting! ... I could get my teeth cleaned, have a massage, and purchase new reading glasses! I thought I’d hit the jackpot. So you can only imagine my surprise when perusing the list of covered allied health professionals, only to find that dietitians – my own profession – were not on the list. How disappointing.
Fast forward 20 years, and we are still vying to get our profession on that list! The specialized nutrition skills dietitians possess are unique and are so incredibly valuable to the health of the public. As dietitians, we know this. But we need the public to know – and to have them value us as experts. When Canadians have coverage for dietitians in their employee health benefits plan, our profession gets recognized. And elevated.
This is definitely something that affects us all, not just those dietitians in private practice.
Currently, I’m a practicum coordinator for a masters program, and I see first-hand how this impacts future dietitians as they enter the workforce. Many are facing a sparse job market in traditional dietetic positions and believe that they may have to go out on their own and start a consulting business – a difficult task when many Canadians don’t have coverage for their services through their employee health benefits plans.
It’s time for our profession to be valued equally with allied health professionals, and to be viewed as the “go to” source for nutrition given the impact we have on the eating habits of Canadians.
I know there is value in this and that it’s good for our profession. So I’m getting involved and am speaking out to support this matter. I chair the DC local action group in Ontario for this matter because our professional reputation is important, and because the time is right for us to be a united front so employers – and Canadians – will see us as the experts that we are.
Why I got involved: Barb's story
By Barb Crocker
I am a public health dietitian and have worked in the area of health promotion and prevention over my career. I am very passionate about the prevention of human suffering and have always worked with vulnerable populations
To support young families, we created a listing of pediatric dietitians available to provide in home or office counseling and follow up for our most vulnerable children with nutrition risk factors. As I believe the public has a right to access our services without a financial burden, finding a way to cover the cost of dietitian service fees was a priority so I joined the BC Extended Health Insurance Coverage for Dietitian Services action group to learn more and help out.
As a profession, we have a mutual goal: all Canadians have access to dietitians across the lifecycle when they need our expertise and services. We have a publicly funded health care system but not all our populations have access to dietitians through this system. Many health care providers offer health services with fees covered through extended health benefits, such as your family dentist.
The timing is right: To help position and raise awareness of dietitians as an integral part of the health care system, we need to advocate as a united profession for coverage in extended health care benefits. The public is hungry for our knowledge, let’s work together to raise access by changing extended health benefits coverage across Canada.