(This news concerns only those pensioners who subscribe to the supplementary health care plan)

 It’s been a challenging year for supplementary health care plans (SHCP) plans in general, and the Pensioners Plan is no exception. For the second year in a row, we forecast a deficit.

To the end of August, benefit costs have amounted to more than $5.5 million dollars, with a resulting deficit of about $163 thousand. Based on the plan experience this year, we would normally be facing an average increase in premiums of around 10%. In some cases, the anticipated increase would be more than 15%. Drugs continue to be a major driver of plan costs.

The plan performance is monitored on a regular basis and a determination of premium rates assessed every year. The Board of the Pensioners National Association (PNA) met recently with the CBC, which sponsors the benefit program, to discuss options for controlling cost increases forecast for next year. Says the PNA President Alain Pineau, “While it’s important to maintain a significant level of surplus to avoid major disruption of benefits, the Board recognizes that the last 18 months have been very challenging financially, particularly for those on fixed incomes.”

It was decided that, given the overall economic situation and the potential impact of any significant increase in health care costs, that some of the surplus be used to reduce premium cost increases for next year as was done for the current year. It was hoped that all premium increases could have been eliminated but that was not possible. The premium rates for the SHCP vary on a Provincial basis depending on the levels of government benefits. The decision means that in some Provinces there will be no increase and in others, a modest increase averaging around 1.5%.