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BC PharmaCare

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Tax Rates/Credits -> BC Tax -> PharmaCare

BC PharmaCare Program

Under the BC PharmaCare program, prescription costs and some medical supplies are subsidized.  The amount of the subsidy depends on family net income, and seniors born in 1939 or earlier, or couples with one born in 1939 or earlier, get a higher subsidy.  It is necessary to register for PharmaCare in order to receive benefits.

Every BC resident should register, even if at present you won't receive a benefit, because if your income drops or your prescription costs go up, you will already be covered.

A January 4, 2019 news release from the Ministry of Health details changes to Pharmacare deductibles starting January 1, 2019.  Households earning up to $30,000 per year in net income will no longer have a deductible.  The deductible is reduced for families earning from $30,000 to $41,667 net income annually.  Family maximums are eliminated or reduced for families earning up to $45,000.  See the Table of Adjustments to Deductibles and Family Maximums.

With PharmaCare, each family has a "deductible" amount which is based on family net income.  For 2019, the deductible would be based on 2017 family net income.  Once the deductible amount is met, Pharmacare pays 70% of the prescription cost.  The remaining 30% is the "co-pay" paid by the family.  Each family also has a "family maximum" based on income, and once the family maximum is reached, Pharmacare pays 100% of the cost of prescriptions.

Note that until the family maximum is reached, pharmacies may charge clients more than the "Pharmacare" amount for a prescription drug.  Once the family maximum is reached the pharmacy may not charge anything more than the amount covered by Pharmacare.

Example:  Family with 2017 net income of $26,000:

Prior to the changes, once the family has paid $500 for prescriptions (excluding costs in excess of the allowed PharmaCare amount for each prescription drug), PharmaCare would pay 70% of prescription costs.  Beginning January 1, 2019, there is no deductible, so Pharmacare will pay 70% immediately.

Once the family's prescription costs reach the maximum $600 (previously $750), PharmaCare then pays 100% of the eligible costs for the rest of the year.

If at least one spouse is born in 1939 or earlier, the annual deductible is zero until family net income exceeds $33,000.  With family income of $26,000,  PharmaCare pays 75% until the family maximum of $300 is reached, and then 100% of eligible costs are paid by PharmaCare for the rest of the year.  However, with the January 1, 2019 changes, Pharmacare will pay 100% immediately for families with at least one spouse born 1939 or earlier, with net incomes up to $14,000.  There will be no "co-pay" at all.

The enhanced Pharmacare assistance for those born in 1939 or earlier used to be available for those who were age 65+.  This was revised, so eventually there will be no enhanced Pharmacare assistance.

Most pharmacies charge more than the eligible cost for prescription drugs, but there can be a big difference in the price between pharmacies.  See our article Prescription Prices are not Equal!

For information on the PharmaCare program, see the following:

    - PharmaCare program - main information page, with link for online registration.

    - Fair PharmaCare coverage - how your coverage is calculated

Tables showing Fair PharmaCare deductibles and annual maximums based on family net income, including 2019 changes:

          - Fair PharmaCare Assistance Levels - Regular (pdf)

          - Fair PharmaCare Assistance Levels - Enhanced (pdf) - for families with one spouse born in 1939 or earlier

          - Drug Plan Regulation

    - Fair PharmaCare calculator - estimate the financial assistance you will receive from PharmaCare.

    - PharmaCare Formulary Search - find out which drugs are covered by PharmaCare.

    - PharmaCare Newsletters

Tip:  Register for PharmaCare to ensure you do not miss out on benefits!

Revised: April 24, 2019

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