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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.
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.
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.
See also BC Fair Pharmacare Program.
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.
There are supplementary benefits available, based on adjusted net income for the preceding tax year for an individual or couple There are many low-income seniors who probably don't realize that supplementary benefits are available.
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. Eligibility for Supplementary Benefits are also based on this income calculation. However, this income exclusion does not apply if:
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.
In order to receive Supplementary Benefits, a person must make application to the Medical Services Plan.
For more information, and to get the application form, go to the MSP web page Supplementary Benefits. The benefits include
Application for Supplementary Benefits 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.
Adjusted net income is calculated by taking
for the previous tax year, and making the following deductions:
Children are no longer eligible for coverage as dependents when they:
The adjustment for being 65 years old applies when the persons becomes 65 at any time during the year.
Premiums were eliminated for 2020 and later years.
MSP premium rates can also be found on the BC Ministry of Health website.
Revised: October 30, 2022
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