Seniors eligible to reduce or eliminate MSP premiums

MLA teams up with the Schubert Centre to generate awareness

Steps are being taken to help seniors decrease Medical Services Plan costs.

Eric Foster, Vernon-Monashee MLA, and Vernon’s Schubert Centre, are launching an initiative to make seniors more aware about MSP.

“We want to help navigate them through the system to see if they qualify for reduced premiums or no premiums,” said Foster.

A survey by seniors advocate Isobel Mackenzie showed indicated 39 per cent of seniors knew about MSP premium assistance and 66 per cent pay full premiums when the number should be fewer than 50 per cent.

A one-time application must be filled out for the premium assistance program. Retroactive assistance may be provided for up to the previous six years.

“We’re getting as group of volunteers together to  explain this to seniors,” said Jack Gareb, Schubert Centre manager.

A single senior earning up to $45,000 may qualify for reduced premiums as may a senior couple earning up to $51,000. This translates into a savings of up to $480 per year for a senior couple and $324 per year for a single senior.

As part of the recent provincial budget, about 335,000 people of all ages will see their premiums reduced, and an additional 45,000 people won’t pay premiums at all in 2017. Other British Columbians though, will see their MSP premiums climb four per cent.

B.C. is the only province that has MSP, and Foster defends the system.

“Everyone pays for health care. It’s not free. You either pay through taxes or through MSP,” said Foster.