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December 21, 2017

Important Adjustments to BC Medical Services Plan Premiums

The National Association of Federal Retirees has been advised that although the British Columbia government announced changes to BC Medical Services Plan (MSP) premiums in September 2016, pension deductions were not adjusted at the beginning of 2017 as they should have been. Consequently, some members are now seeing deductions or in some cases, credits, for BC Medical Services Plan premium amounts that should have been deducted throughout the year. BC Medical Services Plan premiums are collected from monthly pension payments.

As of January 2018, the MSP premium rates will be reduced by 50%. The new rates appear on your December 2017 pension payment for your January 2018 coverage.

The 2017 BC Medical Services Plan rates have been applied retroactively through the Government of Canada pension system. As a result, you may have a retroactive refund or collection of underpaid premiums since January 2017. This refund or credit will also appear on your December 2017 pension statement.

The table below shows the recent premium and coverage level changes:

 
Pre-January 1,
2017 Levels
Pre-January 1,
2017 Pensioner
Monthly Premium
Levels effective
January 1, 2017
Monthly Premium
effective January
1, 2017
Monthly Premium
effective January
1, 2018
Level 1 – Single $37.50 Level 1 – Single $37.50 $18.75
Level 2 –
Pensioner and one
dependent
$68 Level 2 – Two
adults in a Family
$75 $37.50
Level 3 –
Pensioner and
multiple
dependents
$75 Level 3 – Pensioner and
multiple dependents
As of January 1, 2017, there are no MSP rates for children.

For example, John, a pensioner, and his spouse, Mary, noticed a deduction of $114.50 on John’s pension payment for December 2017. They paid $68 per month in 2017, over eleven months (remember, their first premium payment for January 2016 was made back in December 2016); but MSP premiums were increased to $75 per month for 2017. John and Mary owe $7 – the difference between the$68 they paid and the new $75 rate – times 11 months as a retroactive adjustment, plus their premium of $37.50 for January 2018. That’s $114.50.

“Federal Retirees is concerned at the delayed application of the correct rates and the lack of communication to pensioners, especially because it involves unexpected deductions,” says National Association of Federal Retirees president Jean-Guy Soulière. “This can pose a real hardship to some pensioners, and it’s an issue we will discuss with Treasury Board leadership including the minister.”

Information from Health Insurance BC was used to validate members’ premiums. If the premium rate on your December 2017 pension payment statement is incorrect, please complete and send a Group Change Request form to your pension office to ensure that the correct amount is deducted moving forward. This will ensure your premium deductions are updated. The form is available online at https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/health/forms/170fil.pdf or by calling Health Insurance BC at 604-683-7151 or 1-800-663-7100.

An explanation of this is included in your December 2017 pension payment statement.
In the meantime, for more information, consult the Treasury Board’s recent announcement on their website. Your Pension Centre can also provide information specific to your own situation. Contact them at: 1-800-561-7930 (toll-free in Canada), 1-506-533-5800 (toll-free outside of Canada and the United States), or pensioncentre.centredespensions@pwgsc-tpsgc.gc.ca.