MSP premium assistance benefits seniors

While many qualify for assistance with Medical Services Plan premiums, not all are taking advantage of it, Penticton MLA Dan Ashton said.

While more people than ever qualify for assistance with Medical Services Plan premiums, not all are taking advantage of this assistance, Penticton MLA Dan Ashton said.

According to a recent survey by B.C. seniors advocate Isobel Mackenzie, only 39 per cent of seniors know about premium assistance and 66 per cent paid full premiums, even though that number should be fewer than 50 per cent.

“It’s important that everyone who could be benefiting from this MSP assistance is doing so,” Ashton said. “Every penny counts for many of our seniors, and this assistance will give them some financial relief.”

To qualify, a one-time application must be filled out for the premium assistance program.

Retroactive assistance may be provided for up to six years.

The 2016 provincial budget announced changes to premiums and premium assistance, effective Jan. 1, 2017.

These changes are designed to help lower-income families, individuals and seniors with the cost of living.

The province is investing an additional $70 million to enhance premium assistance.

Around 335,000 people will see their premiums reduced and another 45,000 will no longer pay premiums in 2017.

A single senior earning up to $45,000 or a couple earning less than $51,000 may qualify for reduced premiums.

For more information on MSP premium assistance, go to http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/health/health-drug-coverage/msp/bc-residents/premiums/regular-premium-assistance