Repaying OHIP Advances: Your Questions Answered
Sebastien Chevrier - May 17, 2021
The benefits were great, but now it’s (partial) payback time!
As part of the Ontario Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 Advance Payment Program, a three-month advance payment program was put in place to provide payments to eligible health care providers in the early days of the COVID-19 outbreak. These payments were monthly, interest-free, and automated, and eligible physicians automatically received them on their solo Remittance Advices (RAs) in May, June, and July of 2020, unless they notified the ministry of a request to opt-out of the program.
Yet while for many, these advance payments were a welcome reprieve from the difficulties associated with the beginning of the pandemic, in April, the government began to recover these funds. However, please note that as of April 26, the program has again been paused as Ontario deals with a renewed surge in COVID-19 cases.
As for whenever the government again begins to implement this recovery program, here is how we expect it will work, based on previous communication:
The money will be recouped from future OHIP payments to individual physicians. According to the ministry website, “Advance payments will be automatically recovered from the provider’s solo RA. The recovery will be reported as a deduction on the RA under Accounting Transactions, as follows: ‘EMERG ADVANCE (COVID19) RECOVERY’.”
Schedule of repayments
The schedule of these recovery payments should be fairly straightforward, whenever they resume; participating physicians will pay back the funds in six equal installments (one for each month of the recovery program, with April already recovered [meaning five more payments]), with the money coming from their monthly OHIP payments. No interest will be charged.
What if I do not have enough earnings on my solo RA to pay back these funds within the timeline?
A physician in this position will have an RA showing a negative balance. Fortunately, these will not accumulate interest and cannot be deducted directly from their bank account. The negative balance will simply carry over to the following month, with any payments applied against the negative balance. This will continue until the negative balance is repaid.
If the final recovery period (i.e. month) has passed and a physician is still posting a negative balance, they can send a cheque to the ministry for the remaining funds owed. However, it’s smart to wait; any cheques sent before the final month’s RA is issued will not be processed by the ministry.
What if my solo RA is insufficient for recovery payments, but I have group earnings?
If this is the case and a physician would like the recoveries made from their group earnings, the ministry says that their group administrator can contact the ministry’s Service Support Contact Centre or call: 1-800-262-6524.
Requests for recoveries of advanced payments from a group source made by the group’s administrator will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Requests must be made by the group administrator, not an individual group member, in order to qualify. The group administrator will be sent an indemnification form that they will need to complete in order to allow the ministry to process the request. Administrators may request repayment on behalf of all or some group members.
How will this affect my budget?
While it’s always difficult having to see money leave your account, there are some positive aspects to the way this program has been implemented, beyond the initial advance payments. First of all, the fact that the payments will roll over if adequate funds are not within an account, buys time for those who may need it. Secondly, the fact that interest is not a factor, either on the original payments or those that need to be further delayed due to insufficient funds, may prove very helpful for those who are struggling during what is still a very difficult time for many practices.
As always when it comes to your finances, planning ahead will prove helpful. With that being said, the leniency of the program seems to be a big benefit here, particularly the allowances being made for those unable to meet obligations during the recovery period. Though the ministry hasn’t officially communicated much surrounding the consequences of long-term delays in these recovery payments, they have said they’ll have further instructions regarding cheque repayments prior to the final month of recoveries. Keep an eye out for those, and we’ll do the same.
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