What's the difference between my private drug plan and BC PharmaCare

Wednesday, October 09, 2013
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Understanding Fair PharmaCare—the BC government's drug plan

Prescription drugs are the second largest cost in the Canadian health care system. Analysts estimate the cost reached $30 billion in 2009. In BC, the drug expenditure is estimated to have ranged from $714 and $782 per person.

The BC government's Fair PharmaCare plan helps protect British Columbians from high drug costs by subsidizing eligible drugs and other designated medical supplies prescribed by a physician (e.g. certain ostomy supplies, insulin, syringes, needles and test strips for diabetics). You must register for PharmaCare before you are eligible for reimbursement.

Under Fair PharmaCare, you pay your family's prescription costs until you meet your PharmaCare deductible. After you meet your PharmaCare deductible, PharmaCare helps you with eligible costs for the rest of the year.

Your out-of-pocket costs (or a percentage of them) not covered by PharmaCare may be eligible expenses under your Pacific Blue Cross group or individual extended health care plan. Drug coverage varies across all Pacific Blue Cross plans, so check CARESnet to see what your plan covers.

Pharmacare deductible diagram

How much Fair PharmaCare covers

Your PharmaCare deductible and family maximums are based on income bands so they are not exact percentages of annual family income. Once your family's net income has been verified by the Canada Revenue Agency, PharmaCare sends you written confirmation of your level of assistance.

How much Fair PharmaCare covers for eligible residents born after 1939

Net Annual Family Income Family Deductible PharmaCare Pays* Family Maximum Amount Covered after Family Max.
Less than $15,000 None** 70% 2% of your net income 100%
Between $15,000 and $30,000 2% of your net income 70% 3% of your net income 100%
Over $30,000 3% of your net income 70% 4% of your net income 100%

*After deductible is reached.   **Government assists you with your drug costs immediately.


How much Fair PharmaCare covers for eligible residents born
1939 or earlier:

Net Annual Family Income Family Deductible PharmaCare Pays* Family Maximum Amount Covered after Family Max
Less than $33,000 None** 75% 1.25% of your net income 100%
Between $33,000 and $50,000 1% of your net income 75% 2% of your net income 100%
Over $50,000 2% of your net income 75% 3% of your net income 100%

*After deductible is reached.   **Government assists you with your drug costs immediately.


Visit the BC government website for more information about Fair PharmaCare.

This summary of government health coverage is based on information provided by Health Insurance BC. It is intended as a general reference only and may not be up-to-date when changes to public health coverage are made by the BC government. Other government programs and services may be available. Always refer to Health Insurance BC for the most up-to-date information about the government health plan.

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