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Health Insurance BC: Summary of Benefits

Important: changes to the MSP premium rate calculations will be going into effect January 1, 2017, as per the 2016 budget. For more information please see the 2016 BC budget.

The following is a brief summary of Health Insurance BC (the name of the B.C. provincial healthcare plan) coverage and benefits.

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Health Insurance BC administers the provincial health insurance plan which consists of:

  • Medical Services Plan (MSP): Enrolment in MSP is mandatory for all BC residents and their dependents. Premiums are billed one month in advance. MSP provides medical and health benefits, with premiums determined by family size and income.
  • Pharmacare: covers prescription drugs and various medical supplies. 
  • Fair Pharmacare: most common Pharmacare plan. Provides assistance for prescription costs; deductibles are primarily based on income.

Medical Services Plan

Provides payment for the following health and medical benefits:

  • Medically required services of physicians and surgeons
  • Dental or oral surgery if medically required (must be done in a hospital)
  • Routine eye examinations for patients under 19 or older than 64 years old 
  • Midwife services
  • Eye exams that are required medically.
  • Diagnostic services (including x-rays and/or laboratory services) when ordered by a registered physician or supplementary healthcare worker
  • Supplementary health benefits (e.g. paramedicals such as chiropractors, acupuncture, massage therapy, naturopathy, etc.) MAY be covered. People that do qualify are receiving some form of premium assistance. See the BC Supplementary Benefits web page for more information.

For those families who need assistance with premiums, Health Insurance BC offers programs such as:

  • Regular Premium Assistance Program: based on annual family income and allowable MSP deductions. Run by MSP.
  • Temporary Premium Assistance Program: short term assistance based on unexpected financial hardship. Run by the Ministry of Finance.

The Medical Service Plan (MSP) does not offer coverage for:

  • Routine dental services (e.g. cleanings, fillings, extractions and exams)
  • Restorative dental services
  • Physical examinations if not medically necessary
  • Cosmetic surgeries
  • Routine eye examinations for patients aged 19-64
  • Ambulance services (although in-province ambulance transportation is subsidized thereby decreasing cost to BC residents)
  • Eye glasses, contact lenses and other durable medical equipment.
  • Counsellors and psychologists.

BC Pharmacare

BC Pharmacare offers one of the most comprehensive drug programs in Canada; most of these plans require active enrolment in MSP.

These drug plans are:

  • Fair Pharmacare: the largest plan which is subsidized and based on family net income. Depending on your income status, a deductible is determined; once that amount has been met Pharmacare assists with paying eligible drug costs. Lowest income families are not required to pay a deductible and get immediate assistance.
  • Plan B: coverage for permanent residents of licensed residential care facilities.
  • Plan C: for recipients of the BC Income Assistance plan.
  • Plan D: for people who are registered with a provincial Cystic Fibrosis Clinic and in need of digestive enzymes.
  • Plan F: for children in the At Home Program of the Ministry of Children and Family Development who would otherwise be reliant on institutional care.
  • Plan G: for individuals of any age who are registered with a mental health services centre and are in financial and clinical need of medication.
  • Plan P: BC Palliative Care Drug Program. For provincial residents who wish to have palliative care in their home.
  • BC Smoking Cessation Program: nicotine replacement therapy plan for residents who want to quit smoking. Note: as of January 1, 2016, you can sign up for this program at a local pharmacy, you do not have to contact HealthLink BC.
  • BC Center for Excellence in HIV/AIDS: a government resource that monitors and disseminates HIV research and treatment.

- for full details visit the Health Insurance BC web site -

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Last updated March 2016