Seniors call for changes to MSP premiums

Retired employees association calling for elimination of MSP Premiums for seniors.

Medical Services Plan fees are placing a burden on seniors and should be eliminated, says a Mid-Island retired employees association.

The Nanaimo Mid-Island Branch of the B.C. Government Retired Employees Association says the fees are straining seniors on a fixed income and pensions.

The association says eliminating MSP Premiums for seniors is the main goal but the ultimately it would like to see them eliminated for all residents. The Union of British Columbian Municipalities also called for the elimination of MSP Premium for seniors during its convention in September.

Instead of charging the premiums the association wants the costs to be recovered through the income tax system, creating a system where the more a person makes the more they pay. British Columbia is the only province that funds the health-care system through this kind of model; Alberta eliminated its health premium in 2008. However, Ontario has a health premium as part of its income tax system.

Lawrence Johnson, chairman of the Nanaimo Mid-Island Branch of the B.C. Government Retired Employees Association, said the fees are straining seniors on a fixed income and pensions.

“It has been a significant burden on seniors across the province,” said Johnson.

Johnson said MSP Premiums are a regressive tax and everyone above a certain income level is paying the same amount regardless of the differences of income levels. Premium assistance is available to lower income residents based on income level and family composition. People or families earning $30,000 or less qualify for varying rates, with those earning up to $22,000 qualifying for 100 per cent assistance. Johnson said the problem is when the rate is calculated for people earning more than $30,000. A person or family of three or more making over that amount pays the full rate, which means someone earning $30,000 will pay the same amount as someone making $100,000 or more.

According to spokesperson from the Ministry of Finance fully exempting seniors from MSP Premiums could be viewed as unfair to younger British Columbians.  The rates are also reviewed and adjusted periodically to reflect the rising cost of health care and that people in need are protected. The spokesperson said B.C. have one of the lowest tax burdens in the country.

However, the Johnson said the fees have doubled over the last 10 years and that has negatively impacted the retirement extended health benefits of its members.

MSP Premiums remained unchanged for seven years and then were increased six per cent in in both January 2010 and 2011. The fees are scheduled to increase another six per cent in January 2012.

MSP Premiums represent about 11 per cent of the annual health-care budget. In 2010 the fees generated $1.8 billion for the health-care system.

Just Posted

Man and dog safe as crews handle house fire in Nanaimo’s Old City Quarter

Firefighters were called to 400 block of Machleary Street at 11:30 p.m. Tuesday

Calling all believers: Chemainus Theatre presenting Miracle on 34th Street

Opening night is Friday, Nov. 15, and show will run until Dec. 29

City of Nanaimo asking for opinions about planned downtown mobility hub

Short-term improvements include Front Street bikeway, intersection upgrades and more

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Beautifying downtown won’t work

You can paint a zebra every colour of the rainbow but it’s still a zebra, says letter writer

Japanese student visit program looking for host families

Families in Nanaimo-Ladysmith being asked to help out with Dec. 6-9 home stay

VIDEO: Disney Plus gives Canadians a streaming platform that nearly matches U.S. version

The Walt Disney Company’s new subscription platform unveiled a comprehensive offering of nearly 500 films

Nearly half of B.C. drivers nervous in winter conditions: BCAA

‘Wait and see’ approach common practice for 32% of B.C. motorists

Autism support dog refused bus access for being a ‘pet’

B.C. grandmother files complaint with TransLink, calls for better awareness of service dogs

Students plan rally at B.C. education minister’s office as district strike enters third week

Saanich School District students plan to rally outside Rob Fleming’s constituency office in Victoria

Sex assault charge stayed against Port Moody mayor

Rob Vagramov appeared in provincial court in Port Coquitlam

73% of B.C. residents agree with a temporary ban on vaping products: poll

54% say they would not date someone who vapes, Research Co. poll suggests

B.C.’s 13-cent gasoline gap still a mystery, Premier John Horgan says

NDP plans legislation this month, seeks action from Justin Trudeau

Former Vancouver Canucks player suing financial advisors for negligence

Jason Garrison claimed his advisors failed to take his circumstances into account

Group walking on thin ice at B.C. lake sparks warning from RCMP

At least seven people were spotted on Joffre Lakes, although the ice is not thick enough to be walked on

Most Read