After announcing last year that British Columbians will no longer be required to pay for Medical Service Plan (MSP) premiums beginning on January 1, 2020, the provincial government said today it has introduced legislation as part of the process to make that happen.
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“After years of MSP premium increases, our government is proud to be moving forward in meeting our promise to end this regressive tax,” said BC’s Health Minister, Adrian Dix.
He noted that the removal of MSP premiums will “save individuals up to $900 a year and families as much as $1,800 a year.”
MSP is the provincial health insurance program that eligible BC residents enrol in to receive provincially insured health-care benefits, and the province is the only jurisdiction in Canada which still charges a monthly health-care premium.
The Medicare protection amendment act, 2019, removes the sections related to MSP premiums and premium assistance from the Medicare Protection Act, ensuring that MSP beneficiaries are not required to pay any new premiums for enrolment periods after January 1, 2020.
“Eliminating MSP premiums is one of the largest tax cuts for people in BC’s history – and one that was long overdue,” said Finance Minister Carole James. “This is just the beginning of how we’re making life more affordable for people.”
The legislation also amends provisions that give power to the Medical Services Commission, the nine-member board that manages MSP on behalf of the provincial government. The changes mean the commission will no longer set and collect premiums for enrolment periods after January 1, 2020, but will continue with its other MSP responsibilities, including enrolling eligible residents in MSP and collecting unpaid premiums from previous billing cycles.
Although MSP premiums are being eliminated, the MSP program will continue to provide eligible BC residents with provincially insured health-care benefits.
In addition, BC residents must continue to fulfil their MSP obligations under the Medicare Protection Act and regulations, such as enrolment, proof of identity to obtain a BC Services Card, and updating their account in the case of family and address changes.