British Columbia

B.C. government seeking unpaid MSP premiums totalling $422M

Health insurance premiums were eliminated on Jan. 1, 2020, but the B.C. government says it could still claim the nearly $422 million in unpaid premiums from previous years.

Health insurance premiums were eliminated on Jan. 1, 2020 but some people still owe back payments

The B.C. government says it is owed nearly $422 million in unpaid premiums from previous years. (Getty Images/Gallo Images)

While B.C.'s medical services plan (MSP) premiums were eliminated on Jan. 1, 2020, some British Columbians might still have to pay up. 

According to the Ministry of Finance, there is approximately $422 million in arrears due to unpaid MSP premiums. According to the ministry, if it cannot secure a payment plan with an individual who owes money, it can start taking steps to ensure payment.

Scott Hannah, the president and CEO of the Credit Counselling Society of B.C., says it's unclear how much of that money is actually owed. 

For instance, he says, some of it might include people who may not have gotten around to filing the appropriate documentation to have those premiums waived. For others, they may have moved out of the province but hadn't provided proof they were covered elsewhere. 

"If you have individuals who perhaps have been gone for a few years, the premiums could have accumulated and so it gives you the false impression that perhaps you may owe five-, six-, seven-thousand dollars when in fact you don't," Hannah said.

He says the best course of action if you have an outstanding payment — or think you do — is to initiate the call and ask for information instead of waiting for a collection agency to call you.

"It's usually a simpler process especially when you initiate as opposed to wonder who's calling you," he said. 

Ways to waive 

Hannah says if a person doesn't have funds to pay, the government could still get what it's owed through GST rebates, tax refunds, or other credits.

Hannah says if you are not in the position to repay the debt and you meet the qualifications to getting the premiums waived, then it's important to get the corresponding proof. 

There's an online application where people can input their net income to see if they qualify for a retroactive waiver.

If people have questions about the process, Hannah said they can contact his organization. 

With files from All Points West