BC’s first anniversary of revisions to the Fair PharmaCare program has passed.
Powell River-Sunshine Coast MLA Nicholas Simons said it has made the program accessible to more families.
“This is all part of our government’s efforts to make life more affordable,” said Simons.
In the first three months since the BC government made the changes to Fair PharmaCare, around 88,300 more lower-income families have benefited, according to media release from provincial minister of health Adrian Dix.
“This means fewer people are having to make the difficult choice when going to the grocery store between either buying food and daily necessities for their family or prescription medicine,” stated Dix.
After expanding Fair PharmaCare, the number of families earning up to $30,000 who received paid drug benefits during the first three months of the year increased from 63,600 during January to March 2018, to 151,900 during January to March 2019, an increase of 88,300 families, according to the release.
These changes made to Fair PharmaCare mean households earning up to $30,000 in net income annually no longer pay deductibles and the provincial government pays 70 per cent of their eligible prescription drug costs right away.
Previously, a household earning a net annual income between $15,000 and $30,000 would have to pay between $300 and $600 in deductibles before Fair PharmaCare would start to provide coverage assistance.
“This was the first-ever change to Fair PharmaCare deductibles and copayments since the program was created 16 years ago,” stated Dix. “Previously, anyone registered with Fair PharmaCare, even people with the lowest incomes, would have to pay out-of-pocket before receiving 100 per cent coverage. For example, under the previous coverage levels, a family earning $11,250 net a year was required to spend $200 on prescription drug copayments before PharmaCare would cover the full cost of eligible prescription drugs.”
Ministry of Health data shows a link between low-income levels, deductibles and decreased drug spending, indicating that families will forgo filling prescriptions due to the cost of deductibles and copayments. They will opt for other essentials, such as housing and groceries.
“A dollar only stretches so far, and no one understands this more than people living on low incomes,” stated Council of Seniors Citizens’ Organizations of BC president Gudrun Langolf. “Choosing between food or prescriptions is a reality many seniors faced, and I applaud the BC government for taking the long-awaited action to provide relief and make it easier for people to get the prescriptions they need.”