Amendments introduced today to the Medicare Protection Act will set regulations that would allow British Columbians to take longer-term vacations out of the province without losing Medical Services Plan (MSP) coverage.
"The Canadian Snowbird Association requested that we extend the six-month residency requirement for Medical Services Plan coverage. Our government listened to them, and we are making the change to permit more flexibility," said Health Minister Margaret MacDiarmid.
Currently, the maximum time a resident can stay out of the province without losing coverage is six months but changes to the Medicare Protection Act propose that B.C. residents who are outside of Canada for six months can have an additional 30 days without penalty.
"There are many British Columbia seniors who enjoy winters away each year, and this change makes it possible to allow them some extra time away without worrying about losing their MSP coverage," said Ralph Sultan, Minister of State for seniors.
The provinces of Ontario and Newfoundland and Labrador also permit residents to be out of the province for more than six months and still maintain their health-care coverage.
Under the Medicare Protection Act, residents must enrol in MSP in order to become beneficiaries of the health-care system. An individual who no longer meets residency requirements will have their MSP enrolment cancelled and will no longer have access to insured health services.