Ads keep this website free for you. does not research or endorse any product or service appearing in ads on this site.  Before making a major financial decision you  should consult a qualified professional.

Canadian Tax and
Financial Information

If you use an ad blocker, please consider a small contribution to help keep free for everyone.

Need an accounting, tax or financial advisor? Look in our Directory.  Use above search box to easily find your topic!   Stay Connected with!
What's New
Personal Tax
Sales Taxes
Financial Freedom
Financial Planning
Real Estate
British Columbia
Atlantic Provinces
Federal Budget
Prov/Terr Budgets
Statistics etc.
Site Map
Advertise With Us
Contact Us/About Us
Links & Resources
Tax Rates/Credits -> BC Tax -> Medical Services Plan (MSP)

BC Medical Services Plan (MSP)

The health care program in BC is called the BC Medical Services Plan, or MSP.  Prior to 2020 BC charged an annual fee, also called a premium, for this plan.  The rates are shown in the table at the bottom of the page.

The legislation governing the Medical Services Plan is the Medicare Protection Act and the Medical and Health Care Services Regulation.

MSP insures medically required services provided by physicians and supplementary health care practitioners, lab services, and diagnostic procedures.  Prescription medications are covered separately by Pharmacare, but one must register separately for Pharacare. Most dental services are not covered by MSP.  For more detailed information on what benefits are covered by MSP, see the BC Ministry of Health MSP home page.

Premiums were cut in half for 2018 as per the BC September 2017 Budget.  See the link to 2018 rates below.  The BC 2018 Budget brought in the elimination of MSP premiums effective January 1, 2020.  

Employer Health Tax (EHT)

In order to recover the revenue lost by eliminating the MSP premiums, the government will implement an Employer Health Tax effective January 1, 2019, for employers with a total annual payroll exceeding $500,000.  This means that employers who pay their employees' MSP premiums will be paying both the MSP premiums and the EHT for 1 year before the MSP premiums are eliminated.

Charities and non-profits will pay EHT when total annual payroll exceeds $1,500,000, and this threshold will be applied to each location of the organization with BC payroll.

Annual payroll includes bonuses, vacation pay, taxable benefits and other taxable payments to employees.  See Employer Health Tax on the government of BC website.

MSP Task Force

The BC NDP Government announced in a November 2, 2017 news release that they had formed a task force to advise on eliminating MSP premiums within four years, and to examine the best approach to replacing the revenue from the premiums.  Their final report was due March 31, 2018.  See MSP Task Force - Results.

MSP Premium Assistance

There is premium assistance available, based on adjusted net income for the preceding tax year for an individual or couple, but the premium is not collected through the income tax system.  The premium for many employees or pensioners is paid, in part or in full, by their employers or former employers, directly to the government.  It is not unusual for low-income pensioners to not realize they are overpaying for their premiums, especially if they are only paying a portion of the premium and their employer is paying the rest.  There are many low-income seniors also paying their premiums directly without realizing that premium assistance is available.

We were trying to recover retroactively premiums paid by a veteran for whom 50% of full MSP premiums were being deducted from his Canadian Forces Pension.  The elderly veteran did not even realize what was being deducted from his pay, and knew nothing about premium assistance.  We've been told that because the premiums were paid through a group plan that does not allow premium assistance, a retroactive refund past the beginning of the year is not available.  However, there is no mention of this in the Act or Regulation. After many requests made to the Ministry to provide the section of the Act or Regulation which applies to legislate this denial of a refund, they were unable to fulfill our request, and still refused to provide a refund.  Getting the BC Ombudsperson and our MLA involved was of no assistance.

MSP Premium Assistance if Spouse in Care

As per section 12.1 of the Medical and Health Care Services Regulation (link above), when a spouse is in a hospital, nursing home or long term care, and fees are being paid for this care, their income is not included in the income calculation for premium assistance.  However, this income exclusion does not apply if:

bullet the sum of the net income of both spouses totals more than $54,000, or
bullet the fees for the care are being paid by someone other than either spouse.

We could not find information about this on the BC MSP website.  When we spoke with someone at Health Insurance BC (HIBC) about this, they called this an "involuntary separation" and indicated that a form should be submitted which seems to remove that person from the MSP coverage.  When we spoke to a second person about this and indicated that we would submit the application for regular premium assistance but omit the income of the spouse in care, they indicated this would be appropriate.

Making Application for MSP Premium Assistance

In order to pay reduced premiums, a person must make application to the Medical Services Plan.  There are 2 types of premium assistance - regular premium assistance, and temporary premium assistance.  MSP premiums can be temporarily waived in certain financial hardship situations.  For more information, and to get the application form for regular or temporary premium assistance, go to the MSP web page MSP Premiums.  When a person is receiving premium assistance, they are also eligible for supplementary benefits which include chiropractic, acupuncture, and massage therapy visits.

The application form for premium assistance requires the provision of your net income from your Notice of Assessment or Notice of Reassessment, and you must input the tax year for which you are providing this information.  By signing the application form you are giving the Ministry of Health and/or Health Insurance BC permission to verify your income with Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) on an ongoing basis.  The form states that "In most cases, you do not need to reapply for Regular Premium Assistance as Health Insurance BC will continue to verify your income with CRA each year and will maintain or adjust your level of assistance on the information received from CRA.  In order to verify your income, the name and date of birth on your MSP account must match the information on file at CRA."

Retroactive Refunds for MSP Premium Assistance

You can also apply for premium assistance retroactively, and get a refund of premiums paid.  Their policy is that they will refund up to 7 years of overpayments (as per a person I spoke with at MSP), but the legislation puts no limit on the number of years that may be refunded where there is evidence of financial hardship.  You may have to actually request a payment of the refund, as they might just keep it to apply to future premiums.

Adjusted Net Income for BC MSP

Adjusted net income is calculated by taking

bullet combined family net income (line 236 on the tax returns)
bullet less line 117 Universal Child Care Benefit (UCCB) income and
bullet less line 125 Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) income)

for the previous tax year, and making the following deductions:

Spouse $3,000
65 yrs of age or older $3,000
Spouse 65 yrs of age or older $3,000
Children 18 yrs of age or less - amount per child 
     - this deduction is reduced by 50% of child care expenses claimed on either spouse's tax return
Disability - for each disabled person $3,000
Universal Child Care Benefit (UCCB) reported on your (and/or your spouse's) tax return at line 117    

actual amount

Registered Disability Savings Plan income reported on your (and/or your spouse's) income tax return (line 125) actual amount

Children are no longer eligible for coverage as dependents when they:

bullet marry or live together in a marriage-like relationship,
bullet start full-time employment, or
bullet turn 19 years of age

The adjustment for being 65 years old applies when the persons becomes 65 at any time during the year.  See the tables of MSP rates for the current year to see at what adjusted net income premium assistance is available.  For instance, in 2017, a couple age 65 years or older would qualify for reduced premiums with combined net income before adjustments of $51,000 or less.  The adjusted net income would be $51,000 - 3,000 (spouse) - 3,000 (over 65) - 3,000 (spouse over 65) = $42,000.

Tables of Medical Services Plan Rates

Premiums were eliminated for 2020 and later years.

2018 - Unchanged for 2019









2005 to 2009

MSP premium rates can also be found on the BC Ministry of Health website.

Revised: July 20, 2022


Copyright © 2002 Boat Harbour Investments Ltd. All Rights Reserved.  See Reproduction of information from

Facebook  | Twitter  |  See What’s New, stay connected with by RSS or Email
The information on this site is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice.  Each person's situation differs, and a professional advisor can assist you in using the information on this web site to your best advantage. 
Please see our legal disclaimer regarding the use of information on our site, and our Privacy Policy regarding information that may be collected from visitors to our site.