Looking forward to my retirement (133 days but who’s counting?) isn’t all sunshine, roses, and fluffy puppies. I know I will have to pay a price for continued health care.
It’s more important than ever that we stay in tippy-top health. I have promised myself to increase my exercise regime and to eat right to bring down my slightly elevated cholesterol numbers. And it seems unfair that now, as I retire, I am responsible for paying out more money just to stay in good health.
Here in BC we have to pay our own MSP rates (we’re the only province where the provincial government doesn’t cover that cost) and right now my employer picks up that tab. After retirement that will be $150 a month for the spouse and myself. That’s the highest amount on a sliding scale that tops out at a mere $42,000 net income per year.
Plus right now my employer generously provides me with a medical plan to cover my prescription drugs, dental care, and other extended benefits (thanks, CUPE 2950!).
But as of July 1, 2017, I will have to pay for those. BC has a system called Fair Pharmacare, a means tested subsidy based on your income that has a hefty deductible based on your income — from two years previously. For us that could be $1200 a year. Yikes! And it only covers 70% of drug costs up to a maximum, after which we’d get 100% coverage.
You can spread your deductible over a payment plan, but for someone on a fixed income there could be a struggle to afford needed medication. Plus basing the payments on our income from two years previously means that it will be two years before my significantly lower retirement income is reflected in our deductible.
If we lived in Ontario, as a senior my drug costs would be covered with a deductible of $100 A YEAR!
There are private insurance plans which we will certainly consider. I’ll have to do some very tedious spreadsheet work to see which plan will work out best for us. As with all insurance, you should buy before you need it.
But it’s not like that in other countries. Canada is the only country enjoying universal health care that does not have universal prescription coverage. And that costs us money. It seems counter-intuitive that paying for everyone’s prescription could save the health-care system money, but it’s true.
More on that tomorrow.