N.S. Pharmacare Changes Halted

Posted 19 Feb 2016 by Melissa Allan

Pharmacare is a program offered by the province of Nova Scotia that allows both seniors and families access to a drug care program at an affordable price. The provincial government was set to increase premiums April 1st but backed down after backlash from Nova Scotians.

The program is designed to provide relief to families who either do not have insurance coverage or require more prescription drug coverage.  There is no cost to join the family Pharmacare program but there can be a large deductible which is based on your family income and the number of dependents you have.  The seniors Pharmacare program is utilized much more than the family program and is available to seniors age 65 and older. (You should contact Pharmacare three months prior to your 65th birthday to request an enrollment package.) If you do not enroll into this program within 90 days of your 65th birthday you will be considered a late applicant and have to pay additional fees.

In April, 2016 the provincial government was set to implement changes to this program that could have resulted in hefty costs to Nova Scotian Seniors:

  • The annual premium being based on income, up to $1,200  per year (and therefore disclosing annual income to the province of Nova Scotia);
  • Seniors on the GIS no longer being automatically exempt from the annual premium;
  • The copayment (amount of each prescription you pay out-of-pocket) being reduced from 30% to 20% per prescription, which actually would have been a positive change.

Thankfully, as announced by Stephen McNeil on February 18th, the province has halted the above planned changes. The Canadian Association of Retired  Persons  for Nova Scotia received such outcry from residents that the province  decided not to increase premiums this year.

In fact, in a bit of good news,  once change will proceed: the premiums for seniors with low incomes that aren’t on the Guaranteed Income Supplement will be lowered. The province estimates 12,000 people who paid in 2015 will not have to pay in 2016.

We expect an increase to these premiums is on the horizon in years to come, but the province hasn’t yet set a timetable for further changes.

If you would like more information on either program or how they compare to a private policy let us know as we’d be happy to help out.