Province adjusts pharmacare premiums for seniors
Income threshold that determines premiums is changing for first time since 2002
January 15, 2016, 1:43 pm ASTLast Updated: January 15, 2016, 1:47 pm
The Nova Scotia government is adjusting the Seniors’ Pharmacare Program thresholds for the first time since 2002.
Health and Wellness Minister Leo Glavine explained at a news conference that the co-pay — the amount seniors pay at the counter until they hit the $382 yearly maximum — will be reduced to 20 per cent of a medication’s cost, from 30 per cent. The changes will take effect April 1, 2015.
The province is also adjusting premiums based on income.
The Seniors’ Pharmacare Program is the provincially run medicaid program aimed at Nova Scotia seniors. It provides basic medical insurance and access to generic drugs and medication. It is optional, as some private medical insurance plans offer competitive service, but unlike private plans the province will not deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions.
Individuals making more than $75,000 a year or couples with a combined income of more than $100,000, will now have to pay $100 each, every month. But more low earning seniors and couples will be exempt from premiums altogether. This change affects those earning less than $22,986 a year living alone or $26,817 as a couple.
“Sixty-six per cent of the people in the program are either going to pay the same, or pay less than they do right now,” Glavine said.
The province has not changed premiums since 2007. It hasn’t changed the income threshold — the income scale used to judge premiums and exemptions — since 2002.
These changes are designed to catch up with inflation and create long-term sustainability for the Seniors’ Pharmacare Program. “Everyone needs to contribute a little bit in order for this program to stay sustainable,” the minister said.