Background information from the BC Ministry of Health Services metadata dictionary, 2006
"Established in 1965, the Medical Services Plan (MSP) is the publicly funded program that pays for medical and health care services on behalf of residents of British Columbia. This includes all medically required services of general practitioners and specialists; laboratory services and diagnostic procedures, including x-rays and ultrasound examinations; and dental and oral surgery when performed in hospital. Supplementary health care benefits [were until January 1, 2002] provided through MSP, including chiropractic, dental surgery, massage therapy, naturopathy, physiotherapy, optometry, and podiatry services."
"The Medical Service Plan pays medical practitioners for insured services provided to people covered under the Medical Service Plan. Insured services are assigned a MSP fee item in the MSP fee schedule, which contains the fee item description and amount payable. The Medical Services Commission negotiates with the medical associations to determine the MSP fee schedule amount for insured services in B.C. Fee items and their corresponding fees become effective following approval by the Medical Services Commission (MSC)."
"The practitioner is required to identify each service according to the fee item, and this is reflected in the ‘billed fee item' variable. This may be modified by claims prior to payment, so the ‘billed fee item' may differ from ‘paid fee item'. In decisions support systems, fee item is always considered to be the paid fee item."
"The fee items are catalogued by specialty in the payment schedule, published by the MSC."
(BC Ministry of Health Services metadata dictionary, 2006)
Note regarding the ‘Fee Item' field in the Population Data BC MSP data holdings
The Population Data BC MSP data file(s) contains the ‘paid for item' (or fee item) field, which indicates the insured service for which the practitioner was paid.
Fee Item code lists
The latest version of the "MSC Payment Schedule, which is the list of fees (fee items) approved by the Medical Services Commission payable to physicians for insured medical services provided to beneficiaries enrolled with MSP" (BC Ministry of Health Services MSP website, 2008) can be found at: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/health/practitioner-professional-resources/msp/publications#fee-for-service. The files provided on the Ministry website are Adobe pdf files. There is also a search mechanism available on this web page.
Fee items can, and do change over time. Therefore, caution is needed when analyzing data using the fee item field longitudinally. For example, the age group applicable to various ‘visit in office' fee item codes has changed over time.