Last week, the province announced that MSP (Medical Services Plan) premiums will be cut 50 per cent effective Jan. 1. (Photo by Hush Naidoo on Unsplash)

Province cuts MSP payments to start 2018

Effective Jan. 1, MSP premiums were reduced 50 per cent; income thresholds increased

The new year rang in on a healthy note, that being lesser rates for basic B.C. medical coverage.

The province announced Dec. 27 that MSP (Medical Services Plan) premiums would be cut by 50 per cent effective the first day of January.

Changes have also be made to the income threshold for full exemption from MSP premiums under the premium assistance program – individuals can now earn $2,000 more and still be eligible for the program.

Beginning Jan. 1 persons earning up to $26,000 per year will pay no premiums, and couples earning up to $29,000 per year will pay no premiums.

Single parents with two children earning up to $32,000 per year will no longer pay premiums, and couples with two children earning up to $35,000 per year are now exempt from monthly payments.

Additionally, senior couples earning up to $35,000 per year will no longer be subject to premiums.

Under the Medicare Protection Act, MSP enrolment is mandatory for all eligible B.C. residents and their dependents.

In B.C., residents pay monthly MSP rates (premiums), which help meet a portion of the costs of the province’s healthcare system. MSP covers the cost of medically-necessary insured hospital and doctor services.

The cuts mark an important step toward improving fairness from all British Columbians, Finance Minister Carole James said in the Dec. 27 new release.

“MSP premiums are unfair and place a significant burden on British Columbians,” she said. “I’m proud that we are moving away from these regressive fees and creating a more equitable system by eliminating MSP premiums entirely within four years.”

With less money coming in from MSP premiums, in November, the province established a task force to examine how to best replace the lost revenue.

The task force is comprised of respected experts in economics, law and public policy and its report is expected by the end of March 2018.