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Original News Release






Feb. 24, 2003

Ministry of Health Services





What is PharmaCare?


  • PharmaCare is a public drug insurance program. It provides financial assistance to British Columbians who need help in paying for eligible prescription drugs and designated medical supplies. PharmaCare also protects British Columbians from high drug costs.


  • In B.C., 1.5 million families receive PharmaCare financial assistance.


  • PharmaCare, which began operation in 1974, is 100 per cent provincially funded and is not governed by the Canada Health Act. 


·        PharmaCare provides financial assistance to prescription drug users through specialty plans and a new Fair PharmaCare program.


  • The new Fair PharmaCare program focuses financial assistance on B.C. families who need it most, based on their net income.


Who is Covered?


  • Seniors
  • B.C. families
  • Income assistance recipients
  • Long-term care patients
  • Chronic disease patients


Who is Eligible for B.C.’s PharmaCare Program?


To be eligible for PharmaCare financial assistance, an individual must:

·        Be a resident of British Columbia for at least three months.

·        Be registered with the Medical Services Plan of British Columbia.

·        Meet the Canadian residency requirement (person has resided in Canada and has been a Canadian citizen or holder of permanent resident status for the last 12 months).


To be eligible for Fair PharmaCare, B.C. families must meet the above requirements, plus:

  • Have filed an income tax return for the relevant taxation year.


How Does PharmaCare Work?


  • Each year, British Columbians pay their full prescription drug costs until they reach a level known as their deductible.


  • PharmaCare helps British Columbians pay for eligible drug costs for the rest of the year, once their deductible is reached. British Columbians pay a portion of their prescription drug costs.


  • A family maximum ensures British Columbians’ annual drug costs do not exceed their ability to pay. Once the family maximum is reached, PharmaCare covers 100 per cent of eligible costs for the year.


B.C.’s Fair PharmaCare Program


  • PharmaCare is being modernized to provide fair access to prescription drug users.


  • Until now, PharmaCare has offered the same level of financial assistance to many British Columbians, without considering their ability to pay.


·        The new Fair PharmaCare program focuses financial assistance on B.C. families who need it most, based on their net income. To receive their maximum financial assistance, B.C. residents and families can register and provide their net income.    


  • Fair PharmaCare combines the universal plan (Plan A) and seniors’ plan (Plan E) into one new program.


PharmaCare Plans


In addition to Fair PharmaCare, British Columbians will continue to have access to the same coverage under the following plans.     


·        Plan B – For residents of long-term care facilities, eligible prescription medications are covered 100 per cent through the care facility.


·          Plan C – For people receiving income assistance through the Ministry of Human Resources, PharmaCare financial assistance is available for 100 per cent of eligible prescription costs.

·          Plan D – This plan is for people registered with a provincial cystic fibrosis clinic.


·          Plan F – This plan covers children eligible for medical or full financial assistance through the at home program of the Ministry of Children and Family Development.


·          Plan G – Clients eligible for financial assistance through mental health centres are covered by this plan.


  • Palliative Care Drug Plan – For eligible patients, this plan covers the costs of medications listed in the Palliative Care Drug Formulary.


  • PharmaCare funds prescription drugs provided through the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS.

In addition, prescription drugs provided through the B.C. Cancer Agency, the B.C. Renal Agency or the B.C. Transplant Society are not funded by PharmaCare and are not affected by these changes.




Visit the province's Web site at for online information and services.