(Eric Hunsaker/Flickr)

B.C. to axe PharmaCare deductibles for low-income families

Households earning up to $30,000 pay no deductible starting next year

The B.C. government plans to eliminate PharmaCare deductibles for low-income families.

Health Minister Adrian Dix announced Friday that $105-million over three years is set to eliminate or reduce deductibles for roughly 240,000 families who earn a household net income of under $45,000. Effective Jan. 1, 2019, households earning up to $30,000 will have their deductible eliminated, saving them up to $900 per year.

Dix told Black Press the change has to wait for next year because it requires updated income information from the tax system to calculate the eligibility. It’s the first change to the system since

For families earning more than $30,000 per year, the deductible is reduced. For income between $31,667 and $35,000, for example, the deductible goes from $1,000 down to $800. For household income of more than $41,667, the deductible remains at $1,300.

Dix said the cost of pharmaceuticals to the province is rising with an aging population, and the relief for low income people comes on top of a new federal-provincial agreement on generic drugs that reduces the costs somewhat.

“There’s no question that there’s going to be enormous pressure on this budget in the coming years,” Dix said.

Co-payments will also be eliminated for families with someone aged 79 and older with net incomes below $13,750, and lowered for all families with net incomes under $45,000.

“We know that in families earning under $30,000 in net income, needed prescriptions go unfilled too often because PharmaCare deductibles are too high,” Dix said. “The step we’re taking today is a significant one, as deductibles have not been changed in 15 years.”

Prior to these changes, prescription deductibles rose from $0 to $300 when a family’s net income reached $15,000, and jumped another $300, from $600 to $900, when their net income reached $30,000.

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