Bennett: MSP changes benefit seniors

Kootenay-East MLA Bill Bennett says that more people stand to benefit from Medical Services Plan premiums.

Kootenay-East MLA Bill Bennett says that more people stand to benefit from Medical Services Plan (MSP) premiums and reminds seniors to ensure they are eligible.

A survey conducted by Isobel Mackenzie, a seniors advocate, reported that only 39 per cent were aware of MSP premium assistance. According to the same survey, 66 per cent of seniors pay full premiums, when that number should be less than 50 per cent.

“Many seniors don’t have a lot of disposable income, so this assistance will give them noticeable financial relief,” Bennett said. “Our government is able to invest in priority programs like this one because of our disciplined fiscal planning, which has resulted in four straight balanced budgets.”

The B.C. Liberals tabled their 2016 budget on Feb. 16, in which there will be an additional $70 million to aid with premium assistance. The government estimates the new funding will lower MSP premiums for approximately 335,000 people and will allow 45,000 people to no longer pay any premiums until 2017.

A single senior earning under $45,000 is eligible for reduced premiums, while a senior couple earning under $51,000 can qualify. With assistance for MSP premiums, a single senior can save up to $324 per year, and a couple can save $480 per year.

To qualify for assistance on MSP premiums, an application must be submitted. Bill Bennett’s office is offering to assist to any seniors in the Elk Valley who have questions or need help filling out an application form. Application forms are also available online.