Fair PharmaCare Plan

On this page...

Self-Service links

Fair PharmaCare Registration

Fair PharmaCare Coverage

Who should register for Fair PharmaCare?

We encourage all British Columbians to register for Fair PharmaCare.

If you are a B.C. resident and enrolled with the Medical Services Plan (MSP), register your family to receive your maximum assistance under Fair PharmaCare.

Your family includes you, your spouse and any dependent children whose Medical Services Plan (MSP) coverage is on the same contract as you or your spouse.

If you or your spouse was born in 1939 or earlier, you may qualify for enhanced Fair PharmaCare assistance.

Who is eligible for Fair PharmaCare?

To be eligible for Fair PharmaCare you must:

  • Have valid B.C. Medical Services Plan (MSP) coverage; and
  • Have filed an income tax return for the relevant taxation year (that is, two years ago).

If you have not filed an income tax return in Canada because you are a new Canadian resident, refer to Registration for New Residents of Canada.

When you enrol in MSP, you will receive a BC Services Card with a lifetime Personal Health Number (PHN), which allows you to access publicly funded health services in British Columbia.

If you or your spouse does not meet the eligibility requirements, the eligible members of your family can still register. If either you or your spouse does not have a Personal Health Number (the number found on your CareCard or BC Services Card), you will need to register by phone.

When does Fair PharmaCare assistance begin?

The start date of your Fair PharmaCare coverage depends on your MSP coverage, the date you registered, and whether we are able to verify your income. The table below provides information for your situation.

When you are...

Are you covered?

Not enrolled in MSP and not registered for Fair PharmaCare

Your costs do not count towards your Fair PharmaCare deductible and cannot be reimbursed.

Enrolled in MSP but not registered for Fair PharmaCare

Eligible costs for the current calendar year (from the later of January 1 or the date you enrolled in MSP) count towards your Fair PharmaCare deductible but cannot be reimbursed.

Enrolled in MSP and registered for Fair PharmaCare

Eligible costs for the current calendar year count towards your deductible (from the later of the date you enrolled in MSP, the date you registered for Fair PharmaCare). After you meet your deductible, PharmaCare contributes to your additional eligible costs for the rest of the year.

Important: You cannot be reimbursed for costs from:

  • previous calendar years, regardless of when you registered for Fair PharmaCare
  • the current calendar year before the date you registered for the plan
  • the current calendar year if we are not able to verify your family net income before December 31
  • periods during which your MSP coverage was not active/valid

Haven't registered yet? Coverage begins immediately if you register by phone or online. There is no charge for registering and there are no premiums to pay.

What you need to register

To register your family with Fair PharmaCare, you will need:

For all family members:

  • Personal Health Number (found on your BC Services Card/CareCard)
  • Birth dates

For you and your spouse:

  • Social Insurance numbers
  • Net income from Line 236 of your income tax return from two years ago
  • The amount of any Universal Child Care Benefit (UCCB) payments you received two years ago. This amount is reported on Line 117 of your income tax return.
  • Any income from a Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) you received two years ago. This amount is reported on Line 125 of your income tax return.

UCCB payments and RDSP income are deducted from your net income when calculating your level of Fair PharmaCare coverage.

How to register for Fair PharmaCare

Have you already registered? You do not need to register again or in the future.

After you have registered, if you need to update or change your coverage or reinstate your coverage, contact Health Insurance BC.

Have you returned your signed consent form?

PharmaCare needs your authorization to verify your income with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and confirm your level of Fair PharmaCare assistance.

Lost your consent form? You can request a replacement consent form online. Return the form to us as soon as possible to ensure your temporary coverage continues.

How to Register

To register immediately, use online registration or register by calling Health Insurance BC. Please do not register more than once.

When you register online or by telephone, your temporary assistance starts the same day, based on the income information you provide.

PharmaCare will then send you a consent form.

To complete your registration and ensure your temporary coverage does not lapse, sign and return the consent form to Health Insurance BC within 30 days. This important step allows us to confirm your income with the Canada Revenue Agency to make sure you receive the maximum assistance available to you.

Online: Visit our Fair PharmaCare registration website. Your online registration is processed immediately.

By Phone: Contact Health Insurance BC and speak with a customer service representative. Your registration will be processed immediately.

When we have verified your net income with the Canada Revenue Agency, we will send you a letter confirming your level of assistance. It may take up to 90 days for us to confirm your income information and send your confirmation letter.

How Fair PharmaCare works

Your Income

Fair PharmaCare coverage is income-based. Families with lower incomes receive more assistance than families with higher incomes.

How your level of coverage is calculated

PharmaCare uses the net income from your and your spouse's income tax returns to calculate your family's level of coverage. Net income equals the amount on Line 236 on your tax returns minus any amounts reported on Line 117 (Universal Child Care Benefit payments) and Line 125 (income from a Registered Disability Savings Plan).

If your spouse has not filed a separate tax return, PharmaCare may include the Married Amount from Line 303 of your return. They may also refer to GST Credit Application on your Income Tax Return to calculate your spouse's income.

When your level of coverage is calculated

PharmaCare uses income tax data from two years ago to calculate Fair PharmaCare coverage your family receives. For example, your 2010 coverage will be calculated using your 2008 tax return.

PharmaCare calculates your level of coverage:

  • when you first register for Fair PharmaCare, and
  • January 1 of every calendar year

Your deductible

Your family pays your full prescription costs until you reach a level known as your deductible. Once you reach your deductible, PharmaCare begins assisting you with your eligible costs for the rest of the year.

British Columbians with the lowest incomes do not need to meet a deductible and receive immediate assistance.

PharmaCare will pay 70% of your family's eligible costs for the rest of the year after you reach your deductible and until you reach your family maximum (described below).

If you or your spouse was born in 1939 or earlier, PharmaCare will pay 75% of your eligible costs for the rest of the year, after you reach your deductible.

Your family maximum

To ensure your annual drug costs do not exceed your ability to pay, your family will also be assigned a family maximum. If you reach your family maximum, PharmaCare covers 100% of your eligible drug costs for the rest of the year.

Eligible costs

PharmaCare sets a maximum cost that it will recognize for eligible prescription drugs and medical supplies and for a dispensing fee. If there is a difference between this amount and the amount charged by a pharmacy, you will be responsible for the difference. If an item is not a benefit of PharmaCare, you will be responsible for the full cost. Only eligible costs count towards your deductible and family maximum.

Your level of Fair PharmaCare coverage

You can get an estimate of your level of coverage under the plan using our online calculator.

You can also select one of the links below for more information on Fair PharmaCare assistance levels.

Regular Fair PharmaCare Assistance (PDF 33K)

Assistance for those born in or before 1939 (PDF 100K)

The following tables also allow you to estimate your deductible and your family maximum. Once your family's net income has been verified by the Canada Revenue Agency, PharmaCare will send you written confirmation of your level of assistance.

Fair PharmaCare Plan

Net Annual Family
Income

Family Deductible

Portion of Eligible Costs PharmaCare Pays
(once deductible reached)

Family Maximum
(after which 100% of costs are covered)

Less than $15,000

None - Government assists you with your drug costs immediately.

70%

Equal to 2% of your net income

Between $15,000 and $30,000

Equal to 2% of your net income

70%

Equal to 3% of your net income

Over $30,000

Equal to 3% of your net income

70%

Equal to 4% of your net income

The deductible and family maximum are based on income bands so they are not exact percentages of annual family income. For example, if your family income is $34,500, a deductible based on exactly 3% would be $1,035. However, all families with an income between $31,667 and $35,000 are assigned a family deductible of $1,000.

If you or your spouse were born in 1939 or earlier, you will receive the following enhanced Fair PharmaCare assistance:


Fair PharmaCare Plan - Enhanced Assistance

Net Annual Family
Income

Family Deductible

Portion of Eligible Costs PharmaCare Pays
(once deductible reached)

Family Maximum
(after which 100% of costs are covered)

Less than $33,000

None - Government assists you with your drug costs immediately.

75%

Equal to 1.25% of your net income

Between $33,000 and $50,000

Equal to 1% of your net income

75%

Equal to 2% of your net income

Over $50,000

Equal to 2% of your net income

75%

Equal to 3% of your net income

The deductible and family maximum are based on income bands so they are not exact percentages of annual family income. For example, if your family income is $19,000, a family maximum based on exactly 1.25% would be $237.50. However, all families with an income between $18,000 and $22,000 are assigned a family maximum of $250.

Increased assistance and payment options

Fair PharmaCare offers access to increased assistance if:

  • your family net income has decreased by 10% or more in the past year
  • your spouse is now a resident in long-term care and including their income in the calculation of your assistance is a hardship.

We also offer a Monthly Deductible Payment Option if you have a deductible and you find it difficult to pay your prescription costs early in the year.

See our Fair PharmaCare Income Reviews and Monthly Deductible Payment Option pages for more information.

Updating or changing your coverage

It is important that you keep your family information up to date. Your family membership also affects your level of coverage. This is because

  • each member of your family must be registered with Fair PharmaCare before their prescription costs will be covered
  • changes in your family membership may require an adjustment to your level of coverage

Contact Health Insurance BC as soon as possible after

  • you marry or enter into a marriage-like relationship
  • you have a new baby or adopt a child
  • you gain primary (51% or more) custody of a child from a previous marriage or relationship
  • you separate or divorce
  • your spouse dies *
  • your spouse becomes a resident in a licensed long-term care facility *
  • your child is no longer considered a dependent by the Medical Services Plan (your child can remain covered by asking us to set up separate Fair PharmaCare coverage for them)

* In these cases, you may be eligible for increased assistance. Please see Fair PharmaCare Income Reviews and Family Changes for more information.

Reinstating your coverage

In some circumstances, your income-based Fair PharmaCare coverage may end. If you become eligible for coverage again, you can ask to have your coverage reinstated.

For instance, your coverage may have ended because:

  • you did not return a consent form authorizing PharmaCare to check your income with the Canada Revenue Agency or withdrew your consent;
  • your deductible defaulted to $10,000 per family because we could not verify your income (if, for example, you did not file a tax return);
  • your coverage ended because you left B.C. to live elsewhere; or
  • you opted out of the B.C. Medical Services Plan.

In each case, coverage can be reinstated if you take the steps needed. This might mean filing a tax return, re-enrolling with the B.C. Medical Services Plan or providing your consent for PharmaCare to check your income with the Canada Revenue Agency. Contact Health Insurance BC to reinstate coverage.

Fair PharmaCare and other PharmaCare Plans

In addition to the Fair PharmaCare plan, PharmaCare offers nine plans for specific patient groups and/or services.

If you are covered under another PharmaCare plan, you may still need to register for Fair PharmaCare for coverage of drugs not included in the specialty plans.

Need more information?

For more information see:

If you have any additional questions, contact Health Insurance BC.