A Guide to Medical Services Plan (MSP) Premiums Assistance

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The medical services plan premiums for British Columbia residents were phased out on January 1, 2020, meaning British Columbia residents are no longer required to pay for the premiums. However, MSP accounts remain the same and enrollment is still mandatory for all eligible candidates. All premium bills charged on or before December 30, 2019 will be collected, but new MSP premium assistance applications are no longer available (retroactive premium assistance, is however, available). Here's a quick overview of the medical services plan premium assistance, including the latest information from BC, information about paying outstanding premiums, and tips on getting the retroactive premium assistance.

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The MSP Premiums No Longer Apply

Medical services plan (MSP) is the equivalent of public health insurance, which is the cost of medical services provided by an insured doctor. Before the phasing out, all eligible Canadian residents were required to fulfill their MSP obligations as per the British Columbia Medicare Protection Act. This responsibility doesn't change, so residents are still expected to maintain their MSP accounts and provide accurate information about their address, family structure, and any changes to their plans.

All eligible BC residents, dependents and First Nations residents living in BC must enroll with MSP as required by the provincial regulations. You can enroll by submitting a completed MSP application to Health Insurance BC (HIBC). Applicants must also visit an Insurance Corporation of BC driver licensing office for a BC Service Card they can use when seeking medical services and treatment.

In place of MSP premiums, the province shifted to a new Employer Health Tax that's tied to your payroll and will use this to fund its public health care. The phasing out of MSP also effectively put an end to regular premium assistance and temporary premium assistance. However, residents can still qualify for supplementary benefits to cover the partial cost of some medical services. You can also get the retroactive premium assistance, which is described in detail below.

How to Pay Your Outstanding Premiums

December 30, 2019, was the last time British Columbia residents paid MSP premiums. However, all debts owed before the phasing out of premiums will be collected. If you still have outstanding premiums from 2019 and previous years, it is essential to complete payment to avoid interests and penalties. There are various ways to pay premiums owed, including:

  • Pre-authorized debit (PAD) – You can set up the pre-authorized debit by filling the PAD application form and mailing it to the Revenue Services of British Columbia. PAD is a convenient way to pay your outstanding debts as it allows direct payment from your bank to the provincial government. You must also attach the void cheque when mailing your application for PAD.

  • Bank or financial institution – Most banks have bill payment services you can use to offset your outstanding MSP premiums. 

  • Online using your credit card – You can clear your MSP premium debt using Visa, Mastercard, Visa Debit, Amex, or Debit Mastercard. 

  • Government office – If you fancy visiting a government office, Service BC Centre handles MSP premium payments.

  • Mail – This is the last option available for making overdue MSP premium payments. You can write a cheque, money order, or bank draft payable to the Minister of Finance. Ensure you include the MSP account number for quick identification and don't send any cash by mail.

Those unable to make their outstanding MSP payments can qualify for financial assistance programs or set up a convenient payment plan by contacting BC Revenue Services.

How to Get Retroactive Premium Assistance

Retroactive premium assistance was designed to provide financial assistance for the previously billed Medical Service Plan premiums. Various things are considered for eligibility, including your net income (plus spouse net income if applicable) for the tax year, family size, disability benefits, registered disability savings plan and child care benefits. The assistance is available for up to six years before January 1, 2020, for individuals registered in self-administered plans and five years if you are in a group plan. You can apply for the retroactive premium assistance online, which takes only 15 minutes to complete.

If you are applying for assistance for years in which you had a spouse who worked and earned income outside Canada or were part of an MSP group plan, you will need a print HLTH 104 form. HLTH 104 is known as the application for retroactive premium assistance and is completed and mailed separately for the described cases. You should also check if your adjusted net income is below the eligibility threshold for each year you apply for assistance. If your adjusted income is above the threshold, you won't qualify for retroactive premium assistance.

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Last Updated March 4, 2022

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