News Release Archive

There will be no increase in the Pharmacare premium or co-payment
in 1996-97 and at the same time the income level to qualify
low-income married seniors for a credit refund will be increased
from $21,000 to $24,000, the Nova Scotia Seniors Pharmacare Board
of Directors announced today. The second year of the new program
begins April 1, 1996.

"The board is making every effort to protect seniors against
increased payments whenever possible," said Dean Salsman, chair,
Seniors' Pharmacare Board of Directors. "We are very pleased
there will be no increase in the premium and co-payment next

Pharmacare is a provincial drug insurance program available to
all seniors, regardless of their current health status or
pre-existing health condition, to help them manage their
prescription drug costs.

The $215 annual premium and 20 per cent co-payment to a maximum
of $200 will continue for 1996-97. Single and married low-income
seniors will continue to qualify for a credit refund of up to
$300 from the province to help offset the cost of their premium.
Seniors can pay their premium in a variety of ways next year
ranging from one lump sum, monthly or quarterly payments to using
their bank card.

The board of directors also announced an increase in the family
income level to qualify low-income married seniors for a credit
refund. Many married seniors believed the income level was too
low and did not accurately reflect their cost of living. The
board responded to their concerns. Starting April 1, married
seniors with a family income of up to $24,000 will be eligible
for a credit refund. Last year the income level was up to
$21,000. The income level to qualify low-income single seniors
for a credit refund remains at $15,000 to $18,000.

Late-entry requirements for seniors joining Pharmacare were also
announced by the board today. "We took into consideration that
1995-96 was a transition year so we wanted to be fair to seniors
who needed extra time to make their decision as well as to those
already in the program and to ensure the ongoing financial
sustainability of the program," said Mr. Salsman.

Seniors joining Pharmacare late this year, but before April 1,
1996, will pay the same premium and co-payment as those seniors
who joined the program earlier. Many of the seniors who are 
joining the program late have had their prescription drug costs
covered by Pharmacare since the new program was introduced on
April 1, 1995.

The late-entry requirement for seniors who are eligible to join
the program this year but decide to join after April 1, 1996 is a
$430 premium for one year only as well as the 20 per cent
co-payment. They will not pay any less than a senior who joined
the program earlier. There will also be a 90-day waiting period
before their Pharmacare coverage begins.

Starting April 1, 1997, anyone joining the program after their
deadline has passed will be required to pay one and one-half
times the annual premium for that year and every year thereafter
and wait 90 days before their Pharmacare coverage begins.
The co-payment would remain the same for all seniors.

All seniors turning 65 will be given three months to decide
whether or not they want to join the program before they are
subject to late-entry requirements.

"The board of directors decision to hold the premium and
co-payment for this year demonstrates the board's ability to work
in the best interest of the seniors in this province while
ensuring the program costs are being met," said Health Minister
Ron Stewart.

Seniors who have not paid their premium payment or who have opted
out of the program and have since changed their minds must
contact Pharmacare before April 1, 1996 to avoid any late-entry

Seniors can call the new toll-free Pharmacare number
1-800-544-6191 or, for local calls, 429-6565 if they have any


NOTE TO EDITORS: A backgrounder can be obtained by calling
902-424-4492 or toll-free 1-800-670-4357.

Contact: Sue McKeage  902-424-3581

trp                     Mar. 13, 1996 - 12:40 p.m.