With more than $400 million in unpaid Medical Service Plan bills still owing, the B.C. government is also dealing with a legacy of millions of people illegally claiming health insurance from outside the province.
Health Insurance B.C. is sending out letters this month to MSP account holders, reminding them to notify the provincial health insurance agency if they plan to be out of the province for six months or more.
“B.C. residents must fulfill their MSP obligations under the Medicare Protection Act, such as updating their MSP account due to address changes,” the form letter states. “HIBC and the Ministry of Health offer easy online services to ensure that your MSP account information and address stay current. To update your MSP account, visit gov.bc.ca/managingyourMSPaccount.
“Any MSP premium debts from before Jan. 1, 2020 remain payable to Revenue Services of British Columbia.”
MSP billings officially came to an end Jan. 1, as Canada’s only remaining health care fee was phased out and replaced with the “employer health tax” on payrolls of more than $500,000. The finance ministry confirmed to Black Press this month that as of Dec. 31, B.C. residents and businesses still owed $422 million in unpaid MSP charges, with the Canada Revenue Agency assisting with collections taken from tax refunds and credits.
Non-residents living in the U.S. and elsewhere while claiming B.C. health benefits is another huge financial problem that lingers today. In 2013, the B.C. government started issuing the new “B.C. Services Card” with photo and secure identification, which can be combined with a B.C. driver’s licence.
The new cards were developed after the health ministry calculated that it had 9.1 million of the old “B.C. CareCard” health cards in circulation. B.C.’s total population was only 4.5 million, with most of additional cards considered to be obtained for health care fraud.
B.C. residents can obtain or renew a B.C. Services Card at any ICBC motor vehicle office. The single-purpose health card is available at no cost, expiring after five years like a driver’s licence.
For combined driver’s licence and health cards, a renewal fee of $75 applies, discounted to $17 for seniors. The health card is free, but still requires a photo of the holder and the card will be mailed once B.C. residence is established.
An expiring B.C. Services Card or CareCard is acceptable as identification for enrolment.