Prescription Drug Coverage in BC

In BC, Fair PharmaCare helps individuals and families pay for eligible prescription drugs, dispensing fees and some medical supplies. Before we go on, please note that this is not the same as the Medical Services Plan (MSP) which covers required medical services such as doctor’s visits, surgeries and the like. Again, Fair PharmaCare covers drugs and medical supplies.

Fair PharmaCare coverage is based on income. The lower your income, the more help you receive. There is no cost to register and there are no premiums.

Those registered for Fair PharmaCare will pay full prescription costs until they meet their deductible during a calendar year (January to December). Once the deductible is met, Fair PharmaCare will pay 70% of the eligible cost of a drug for Regular Assistance families, and 75% for Enhanced Assistance families (those with a member born before 1940), until they reach their family maximum. After the maximum is reached, Fair PharmaCare will pay 100% of eligible drug costs for the rest of the calendar year.

Deductibles and family maximums are based on the family’s net income.

Enrollment is not automatic; you must apply either online or paper copy. In order to apply you need to have active MSP coverage. You only have to register once. Your level of coverage is updated automatically each year after your taxes are filed.

An interesting bit about coverage, it is based on your income from two years prior. For example, in the year 2020, your coverage is based on your 2018 income (technically line 236 on your income tax return). That said, if you had a drastic reduction in income such as illness resulting in a job loss, you can apply to Fair PharmaCare for an “income review”. This means you can ask them to consider either your current year income or your income from the previous year instead of two years ago. Of course you will need to send evidence showing that your income changed such as a Record of Employment from your previous employer, Employment Insurance claim details and so on.

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