Fair PharmaCare is an income based PharmaCare plan that can help eligible families with some medical costs, including dispensing fees. This program is always available, but you might find it to be a particularly helpful financial support during this time.
We know that this article is quite long. We tried to pull as much useful information as possible from the Government of BC websites. You can find the most up to date information on the Fair PharmaCare page.
What is Fair PharmaCare?
Fair PharmaCare is a plan administered by the Government of British Columbia that helps BC families with Medical Services Plan (MSP) coverage pay for eligible prescription drugs, dispensing fees and some medical supplies.
Who is eligible?
All BC residents who both:
- Have Medical Services Plan (MSP) coverage,
- And, give PharmaCare permission to check their income with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)
- They will check the two prior tax years
- You may need to supply additional information if you haven’t filed a tax return in Canada in two years (i.e. if you’re a new resident, if you were previously exempt from filing tax returns, etc.)
You will apply as a family rather than as individuals, although a family could be any of the following:
- A single person
- A couple (married or common-law)
- A single person with dependent children
- A couple with dependent children
If one or more family members don’t meet the eligibility requirements, other family members can still register. You can find out more about eligibility and dependents on their information page.
How much coverage will I get?
Fair PharmaCare is income based. This means that the less a family earns, the more help they will get under the Plan.
Fair PharmaCare covers some of the fees for:
- Eligible prescription drugs
- Some medical devices
- Eligible dispensing fees and some pharmacy services
What else you should know about coverage:
You can find out more about how much coverage you can expect by figuring out your family deductible and your family maximum.
Your family deductible:
A family’s deductible is the amount a family has to spend on eligible costs in a year before Fair PharmaCare helps with these costs.
Once families reach their deductible, Pharmacare pays 70% of costs (75% of costs for families with a member born before 1940).
- This means that once you’ve met your deductible, if you’re charged a $10 dispensing fee, Fair Pharmacare will cover $7 of that payment (you will only have to pay $3).
- You can calculate your deductible using the Fair Pharmacare estimator.
You can request increased assistance or adjusted payment options if you’ll need help before meeting the deductible. This might be especially relevant if you’ve lost some or all of your income due to COVID-19.
Your family maximum:
The family maximum means the most a family will spend out of pocket, per year, on eligible drugs, fees and medical supplies. If the family reaches the family maximum, 100% of the remaining eligible expenses for the year will be paid by Fair Pharmacare.
- You can calculate your family maximum using the Fair PharmaCare estimator.
This means that if you’ve met your family maximum and you encounter a dispensing fee of $10, Fair PharmaCare will pay for all $10 of that fee (you will pay $0).
How do I apply?
Ways to register:
- You can register online
- You can register by phone:
- From the lower mainland: 604-683-7151
- From the rest of BC: 1-800-663-7100
- You can register using a paper form
How long do I have to wait for coverage?
Coverage begins as soon as PharmaCare processes your registration.
Your coverage is temporary until PharmaCare verifies your income with the CRA, and then your coverage is set for the rest of the calendar year.
Provided they can verify your income with the CRA each calendar year, your coverage will continue, although it will be adjusted according to your income (as reported by the CRA).
What else you should know:
- If you’ve previously registered for Fair Pharmacare and need to change your info or reinstate your income-based coverage, you must contact Health Insurance BC.
- Fair PharmaCare will not cover costs from previous years, nor will it cover costs from times when the family’s MSP coverage was not active.
- If you still have more questions, you can check out the Fair PharmaCare FAQs.
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Where do we fit in?
Yes, we are a provincial regulator. We are responsible for some very specific transactions in BC. We aren’t experts on COVID-19. We won’t – and shouldn’t – ever give medical or legal advice. But we are in a unique circumstance right now and we want to help people navigate the current reality. We don’t have all the answers, but we will do our best to share information from reliable sources, put it in ways that are easy to digest and understand, provide referrals and help you navigate this situation.
About Consumer Protection BC:
We are responsible for regulating specific industries and certain consumer transactions in British Columbia. If your concern is captured under the laws we enforce, we will use the tools at our disposal to assist you. If we can’t help you directly, we will be happy to provide you with as much information as possible. Depending on your concern, another organization may be the ones to speak to; other times, court or legal assistance may be the best option. Explore our website at www.consumerprotectionbc.ca.