Non-therapeutic massage clinics in Canada

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Depending on the province or territory, massage therapy may or may not be a regulated profession (for example, Quebec massage therapists are not provincially regulated). This means that there are no government-regulated, province-wide standards of practice or quality controls.

Sun Life is aware of a number of massage facilities in Canada that operate as massage parlours – offering sexual services in lieu of, or  together with, a body rub or massage.

These operations are most easily identified by the public advertising they post – offering “additional” or “other” services and using sexually suggestive photos or language. They can also be identified by their long hours of operation, with many open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The concern:  receipts are issued

A number of these operations advertise that they will issue receipts for insurance purposes – even though the services don’t meet the eligibility requirements under a benefits plan. Under the terms of our plans, services or supplies are eligible for reimbursement if they are medically necessary, in accordance with Canadian medical standards, for the treatment of an illness.

Plan members are encouraged to research paramedical providers before obtaining services.  They can do this by conducting online searches or checking local newspapers.  Inappropriate advertising or 24-hour services can be indicative of a clinic providing services that are not eligible for reimbursement. As the information about these facilities is publicly available, plan members can easily access it to determine if their provider falls into this ineligible category.

Sun Life will decline all massage therapy claims if the services are rendered at an establishment that provides non-therapeutic services.

Plan member communication

We have provided some suggested messaging for you to distribute to your plan members about non-therapeutic massage practices in Canada.

Please use this communication to let your plan members know that Sun Life will not pay for any claims submitted for non-therapeutic massage services, even if a receipt has been provided.

Questions?

Contact your Sun Life Financial group benefits representative.