Increased Assistance and Payment Options
If your family income has dropped significantly, you may be eligible for more help immediately from Fair PharmaCare. Your income may have dropped because of COVID-19 or for other reasons. The first step is to apply for an income review. See below for details.
The results of an income review could be a lower deductible or family maximum. Use the Fair PharmaCare calculator to see how your coverage could change.
If you are finding it difficult to pay off your Fair PharmaCare deductible, a monthly payment plan may be a solution. If you qualify, the Monthly Deductible Payment Option (MDPO) allows you to spread out your deductible over the year and receive help from Fair PharmaCare right away.
Other family changes may affect how much help you receive from Fair PharmaCare. If your spouse has moved into residential care, if you have separated or divorced, or if your spouse has died, see below.
If your family income has dropped because of the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be eligible for more help immediately from Fair PharmaCare. The first step is to apply for an income review. You can apply online or by mail for an income review. Details below.
You are eligible to apply for an income review if
- You are registered for Fair PharmaCare; and
- You have experienced layoff, loss of employment or other reduction of income resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic; and
- Your anticipated gross income for this year will be at least 10% less than your income from two years ago as verified by the Canada Revenue Agency.
If you are not yet registered for Fair PharmaCare, register here. After registering, you can apply for an income review.
You will need the following for all income sources for you and your spouse. If you can’t obtain a required supporting document, see Letter of Declaration below. All documents must have been issued in 2020. Please do not include bank statements.
For the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and the BC Emergency Benefit for Workers
- Statement from the CERB and/or the BC Emergency Benefit for Workers confirming payment of the benefit.
- Letter from your employer (on letterhead) showing your expected gross income this year
- Letter from your accountant, if you have one, and copies of your invoices or cheque stubs to date.
- Record of Employment, final pay stub showing gross year-to-date income, and letter from Employment Insurance (EI) showing the EI coverage start date, end date and weekly benefit amount. These letters can be requested through Services Canada
For pensions, workers’ compensation or disability payments
- Letter from Canada Pension Plan, Old Age Security, Guaranteed Income Supplement showing your current monthly benefit amount. These letters can be requested through Service Canada, or by logging in to your Service Canada account: www.canada.ca
- Letter from WorkSafeBC showing your current gross monthly benefit amount
- Letter from disability insurance or pension provider showing your current gross monthly benefit amount
Income from other sources:
- Documents for investments (such as interest and mutual fund payments)
- Income from RRSPs, RIFs, LIFs, annuities, etc.
- Income earned outside of Canada
- Business income (rental, partnerships, etc.)
- Support payments
If you are not sure which documents to include, contact Health Insurance BC.
Letter of declaration
If you are unable to obtain a required supporting document because of limited services due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you must provide a letter signed by you declaring the following: the document(s) you are unable to provide, the reason they are not available, the source of the related income, the gross monthly amount of this income, and how long you expect to collect this income.
Before you start, make sure that
- You have all supporting documents and/or a letter of declaration
- Your web browser is Internet Explorer 11 or the latest version of either Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome or Apple Safari
Apply by Mail
Complete and sign the Application for Income Review: COVID-19 (HLTH 5255)(PDF, 85KB)
Send to the address below with copies of all supporting documents and/or a letter of declaration. The application can’t be processed until all documents are received.
Health Insurance BC
Attention: Fair PharmaCare
PO Box 9685 Stn Prov Govt
Victoria BC V8W 9P2
We base your Fair PharmaCare coverage on your income information from two years ago. If your family income has dropped by 10% or more in the past two years, you can apply for an income review. If the review is approved, you can get more help immediately from Fair PharmaCare.
Important: You can apply for an income review only for the current year’s coverage. You must submit your application before December 31. You cannot apply for a review for a previous year.
To be eligible for an income review:
- Your family's income must have gone down by 10% or more compared to your net income from two years ago, and
- You will need to provide acceptable documentation to support your income information.
To estimate if you are eligible for an income review, see page 2 of Income Review Application (HLTH 5355) (PDF).
If you are eligible, complete the application and send with copies of your supporting documents to:
Health Insurance BC
Attention: Fair PharmaCare
PO Box 9685 Stn Prov Govt
Victoria BC V8W 9P2
Fax to 250-405-3598
We will review your application and, where possible, verify your income with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). If we approve your application, we will confirm your new level of coverage in about one month of receipt of your application. If more than a month has gone by, contact HIBC.
Note: If the income information you provide with your application cannot be verified when tax information for that year becomes available, PharmaCare will recover any overpayment of assistance.
Is there a deadline for applying?
Yes. You must apply before December 31 of the year for which you want increased coverage.
Will PharmaCare reimburse me for amounts I paid above the lower deductible?
If your income review results in a lower deductible and family maximum, it applies to the eligible cost of any prescriptions you purchased after the later of
- January 1, or
- The date your family registered for Fair PharmaCare, or
- The date of the most recent addition or removal of a spouse from your Fair PharmaCare record, or
- The restore date after cancellation of your coverage.
If you qualify for a refund, PharmaCare will reimburse you in the spring of the following year.
Many people do not have a deductible under the Fair PharmaCare plan. PharmaCare helps them with their eligible prescription costs right away.
For families that do have a deductible and find it hard to pay at the beginning of the year, PharmaCare offers the Monthly Deductible Payment Option (MDPO).
Once enrolled in MDPO, families pay their deductible in monthly installments and receive help with eligible prescription costs right away.
Here is an example of how the MDPO might benefit a family:
Brenda and John's prescription costs are about $2,200 each year. Their Fair PharmaCare deductible, based on their combined annual income, is $1,200. Currently, Brenda and John pay the $1,200 deductible at the beginning of the year. Once they have paid the entire deductible for eligible prescription costs, PharmaCare begins contributing 70%.
Under the MDPO, Brenda and John would pay $100 towards their deductible each month. PharmaCare would begin paying 70% of eligible prescription costs from the date they enrol. Brenda and John would pay only 30% of their eligible prescription costs at the pharmacy until they reach their family maximum.
Who is eligible for the Monthly Deductible Payment Option?
- Register for Fair PharmaCare; and
- Do not have private health insurance with a drug benefit plan (if your private health insurer contributes to your prescription costs, enrolling in MDPO could complicate or delay your private health benefits); and
- Have a deductible greater than $0
This option will not benefit you if your annual prescription costs are less than your deductible or if your deductible is $0.
If you enrol and later begin receiving private health insurance that includes a drug benefit plan, you need to cancel your MDPO enrolment.
What will I pay at the pharmacy after I enrol?
Once you are enrolled, your prescription claims will be processed as though you have met your deductible. In most cases, this means PharmaCare pays 70% of eligible costs (or 75% of eligible costs for families with a family member born before 1940). After you reach your family maximum, PharmaCare pays 100%.
Note: Individuals remain responsible for payment for non-benefit products.
Your monthly deductible payments do not show on pharmacy receipts. You will receive a tax receipt at the end of the year, so you can claim your monthly payments as medical expenses.
If I discover that the payment plan doesn't help me, can I cancel my enrolment?
Yes. You can cancel your enrolment at any time by contacting HIBC.
If you cancel, PharmaCare will reconcile your account for the previous year and issue you a statement early in the next year. You will receive a refund if you have paid more than your required contribution. If you received more assistance than your monthly payments accounted for up to the cancellation date, PharmaCare will recover that amount. Revenue Services BC manages both refunds and recoveries.
You must keep both the statement and your prescription receipts if you wish to submit your prescription costs as medical expenses on your income tax return.
What happens if my prescription costs end up being lower than my deductible?
Early in the following year, PharmaCare will reconcile your account for the previous year and issue a statement. You will receive a refund if you have paid more than your required contribution under the Fair PharmaCare plan. You must keep the statement and your prescription receipts if you wish to submit your prescription costs as medical expenses on your income tax return.
How do I make monthly payments?
You can choose to:
- Receive a bill each month, (payable on the 15th of the month), or
- Have your financial institution deduct your monthly payment.
If you receive a monthly bill, you can pay using the Revenue Services BC online payment service.
If I enrol, do I need to report changes in my family structure to PharmaCare?
Yes. In cases of marriage, separation or divorce, tell us of the change in your family. HIBC will review the options with you (for example, changes to your monthly payment amount or account reconciliation).
When should I enrol?
You may enrol for the current calendar year by contacting HIBC anytime up to the last business day of September.
After September 30, you can request enrollment for the following year.
How long does it take to enrol?
When you contact HIBC, staff will ensure that the MDPO is right for you. If it is, you will receive an enrollment package. After you receive and review the documents, you need to mail or fax the necessary form(s) to HIBC.
Your enrollment will be processed two to three business days after receipt of the forms.
How do I enrol?
For more information, or to enrol in the Monthly Deductible Payment Option, contact Health Insurance BC.
If you and your spouse separate or divorce, both of you should contact Health Insurance BC (HIBC). We will arrange for your Fair PharmaCare family membership to reflect your current situation. If you and/or your former spouse experience a drop in income as a result of the change in your marital status, increased assistance may also be available.
It is also important that your children be included in the family of the appropriate parent (a child cannot be included in more than one family). Since Fair PharmaCare and B.C. Medical Services Plan (MSP) share family structure information, please ensure that the children you want to include on your Fair PharmaCare account are on your MSP account.
Note: If your family structure with MSP changes, we will notify you by letter, asking you to confirm your Fair PharmaCare information. It is important to respond to this letter promptly to prevent termination of your Fair PharmaCare coverage.
If your spouse has recently moved to a residential care facility and you are having difficulty with the cost of your prescriptions, contact MSP and ask about qualifying as "separated." This will allow us to exclude your spouse's income when calculating your Fair PharmaCare coverage.
If MSP does not approve your request, contact HIBC. If your combined income is less than $42,000 after subtracting your spouse's residential care fees, you can request increased coverage.
Your spouse's income is included in the calculation of your Fair PharmaCare coverage until the end of the year. This allows your spouse's prescription costs to count towards your deductible.
However, if having your spouse's income included creates financial difficulty you can contact HIBC to have your spouse's income removed. If this happens, your spouse's prescription costs will not count towards your deductible.