B.C. seniors urged to learn if they qualify for Medical Services Plan subsidy

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VANCOUVER - Prices for several services have jumped in British Columbia as of New Year's Day, prompting the province's seniors advocate to urge people over 65 to find out if they qualify for Medical Services Plan premium subsidies.

Isobel Mackenzie says seniors could be eligible for full or partial payments but most are unaware of the available help.

She noted in her 2015 report that only 39 per cent of seniors knew about the program, and awareness was lowest among those with annual incomes under $30,000.

Mackenzie says some retirees are paying $900 every year for MSP and could benefit from assistance.

The premium assistance program offers five levels of subsidies on a sliding scale for individuals and families earning less than $30,000, while those making under $22,000 would pay no premium at all.

On Jan. 1, premiums for people with a net income over $30,000 climbed by about four per cent, with ferry fares and property taxes also scheduled to climb this year.

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