Regular Premium Assistance
In January 2017, MSP premium rates and the Regular Premium Assistance program are changing. For more information, see Medical Services Plan of B.C.
MSP’s premium rate structure and assistance programs are designed to offer a basic monthly rate to the majority of British Columbians and premium subsidies to those in financial need. The Regular Premium Assistance Program assists B.C. residents with the cost of premiums based on their income as verified with the Canada Revenue Agency.
Regular Premium Assistance offers several levels of subsidies. This is based on an individual's net income (or a couple's combined net income) for the preceding tax year, less deductions for age, family size, disability and any reported Universal Child Care Benefit and Registered Disability Savings Plan Income. The resulting amount is referred to as "adjusted net income".
To find out if you might qualify for Premium Assistance, use our online eligibility calculator.See the Monthly Premium Rates chart for details of Regular Premium Assistance rates.
To apply for Regular Premium Assistance, you need to complete and return an Application for Regular Premium Assistance. This one-time application means you don't have to re-apply in future years.
If you believe you may have qualified for assistance in recent years but didn’t make application, Regular Premium Assistance may be provided retroactively to a maximum of six years from the date on which a request is received. If it appears you are eligible, you will need to provide photocopies of Notices of Assessment/Re-Assessment from the Canada Revenue Agency which show your net income for the relevant tax years. If you are married or living in a marriage-like relationship, photocopies of your spouse’s Notices of Assessment/Re-Assessment will also be required.
It can take some time for your application for premium assistance to be processed. You may continue receiving invoices until your application is processed. However, changes to your premium rate may be retroactive to the date you qualified to receive assistance. In the meantime, please continue to pay the premium invoices you are receiving. If a collection agency contacts you, please advise them that you have applied for Regular Premium Assistance. As long as you are a resident of B.C., your MSP coverage will not be cancelled due to overdue or unpaid premiums.
To verify eligibility, each person who applies for Regular Premium Assistance authorizes the Canada Revenue Agency to release income information to the Ministry of Health and/or Health Insurance BC from the person's tax returns. Verification takes place each year and, where appropriate, MSP adjusts the monthly premium of beneficiaries upward or downward based on the information received about your net income and, if applicable, that of your spouse from CRA.
In order to continue receiving premium assistance, MSP needs you to file an income tax return each year, even though the federal government may not require it.
Note: If a person's return has not been filed and processed by the last time MSP checks a particular year's income, the person may get a warning letter or a letter advising that premium assistance has been taken away.
Disputing Changes to Your Regular Premium Assistance
If your premium subsidy changes, Health Insurance BC will send you a letter advising you of the change and the reason for the change. This is done automatically. There is no need to call Health Insurance BC unless you disagree with the information that CRA provided.
If you disagree with the information that CRA provided, you may dispute these changes by contacting HIBC. But before you call, it is important to understand that eligibility for Regular Premium Assistance is based on net income from your income tax return filed with the CRA. If your net income for the previous year was higher than usual because, for example, you cashed in RRSPs, that change could affect your eligibility for Regular Premium Assistance for a period of time.
If your tax return has been re-assessed and you think this may result in a change to your premium, please send MSP a copy of your Notice of Re-Assessment. If your spouse's tax return has been re-assessed, MSP will also need a copy of his or her Notice.