Medical fees top B.C. budget list

Finance Minister Mike de Jong looking at making MSP premiums reflect income, but he has no intention of eliminating premiums

Finance Minister Mike de Jong

Finance Minister Mike de Jong is set to perform surgery on Medical Services Plan fees in the Feb. 16 budget, but he insists B.C. will continue to be the only province to charge people directly for medical care.

“There are some people who advocate eliminating MSP entirely as a separate fee, and hiding it or camouflaging that fee within the general taxation structure,” de Jong said. “I disagree with that. I think you create the illusion that people aren’t paying a fee.”

Premier Christy Clark has indicated that there will be relief for single parent families with income over $30,000 a year, cutting the family rate to $75 a month to effectively remove MSP fees for the children.

De Jong said it’s possible to change the current rate structure, which exempts single people and families making less than $22,000 and rises in steps to $150 a month for a family of three or more making more than $30,000. The government has taken criticism for charging the same rate for wealthy people as those with low incomes.

The finance ministry disputed a report from the Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation that claimed more than 850,000 MSP accounts are at least 31 days past due. Ministry staff say there are 387,381 MSP “pay direct accounts” in arrears.

The amount of the the arrears is estimated to be $457 million, and de Jong said that is why the government takes collection action for those who owe fees. About half of B.C. residents have MSP paid by their employers, with the rest expected to register, show their income and pay what is owing.

“I also recognize that some families encounter difficulties,” de Jong said. “Almost one million British Columbians don’t pay MSP. Sometimes there’s a lag before they’re registered, so that accounts for some of the arrears.”

 

Just Posted

College buys a yurt to boost student success

Round tent-like structure part of college instructional shift

Soup kitchen sees “groundswell of community support”

Donations toward looming tax bill push non-profit back in the black

Terrace husband and wife honoured for saving each other’s lives

BC Ambulance presented each a Vital Link Award for separate incidents of CPR

Council supports lobby for fair share of cannabis tax revenue

The City of Terrace is throwing its support behind a West Kelowna… Continue reading

Airport registers modest passenger increase

Manager anticipates further growth in 2018 as expansion project nears completion

REPLAY: B.C. this week in video

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week

Philadelphia Eagles headed to Super Bowl

After routing the Minnesota Vikings 38-7, they will face Tom Brady and the New England Patriots

Heavy snowfall closes Mount Washington on Vancouver Island

Road to ski resort deemed unsafe, vehicles buried under more than three feet of snow

VIDEO: Dramatic video shows return of rescued B.C. snowboarders

Two snowboarders were rescued near Rossland, B.C. on Sunday after being lost overnight.

Tom Brady leads Patriots back to Super Bowl, top Jaguars 24-20

New England to face winner of Sunday night’s game between Minnesota and Philadelphia on Feb. 4

Liberals quietly tap experts to write new paternity leave rules

Ideas include creating an entirely new leave benefit similar to one that exists in Quebec

Insurers say Canadian weather getting hotter, wetter and weirder

Average number of days with heavy rain or snow across Canada has been outside norm since spring 2013

Final phase of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy trials to kick off in B.C.

Doctors hope to get psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy legalized in Canada and the U.S. by 2021

VIDEO: Thousands join women’s march events across B.C.

Today marks one year since the first Women’s March on Washington

Most Read