Seniors may qualify for assistance

MSP premium assistance to benefit Cariboo-Chilcotin seniors

More people than ever qualify for Medical Services Plan (MSP) premiums assistance next year, and it’s important for seniors to check to see if they are eligible, says Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett.

A recent survey by British Columbia seniors advocate Isobel Mackenzie showed just 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, she explains.

“It’s important that everyone who could be benefiting from this MSP assistance is doing so. Every penny counts for many of our seniors, and this assistance will be very helpful.”

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

Anyone needing help with forms can contact Barnett’s 100 Mile House constituency office at 7-530 Horse Lake Rd., or phone 250-395-3916.

Budget 2016 announced changes to MSP and premium assistance effective Jan. 1, 2017, which will help lower-income families, individuals and seniors with the cost of living. The B.C. Liberal government is investing an additional $70 million annually to enhance premium assistance. About 335,000 people will see their premiums reduced, and an additional 45,000 additional people will no longer pay premiums at all in 2017.

As a result of enhancing premium assistance in 2017, a single senior earning up to $45,000 may qualify for reduced premiums. A senior couple earning up to $51,000 may qualify for reduced premiums. This translates into a savings of up to $480 per year for a senior couple and $324 per year for a single senior.

Once the MSP changes from Budget 2016 are implemented Jan. 1, 2017, nearly two million British Columbians will pay no premiums.

The premium assistance program is just one support for lower-income seniors. The recently released 11th edition of the BC Seniors’ Guide provides information on a variety of programs and supports to help seniors in communities throughout B.C.


100 Mile House Free Press