MSP subsidy in BC

I am writing today with regards to MSP Extended Benefits. In my experience, many eligible BC residents do not know about the MSP subsidy for acupuncture and other paramedical services. I have heard from several people who were disappointed to learn that they are eligible for ten fully subsidized acupuncture treatments per year, but it was too close to the end of the year for them to take advantage of their allotted subsidy. I want to help ensure local health workers and community support professionals know, so they can in turn let others know about this option.

MSP subsidizes acupuncture (along with other paramedical services, including massage, chiropractic, physiotherapy and podiatry) for a $23 amount up to ten times a year for BC residents with Premium Assistance. (This means a low income BC resident with a Care Card.) The income cutoff is $30,000 for a single person with no dependents. The Premium Assistance Eligibility Calculator is here https://extranet.gov.bc.ca/forms/gov/health/msppa.html.

BC residents on Disability assistance may apply for up to 12 more subsidies per calendar year once they have exhausted their original ten. I will attach information outlining how to apply.

Because my clinic charges a sliding-scale fee of $20 – $40 per session, and I bill MSP directly, anyone eligible for MSP Premium Assistance can receive acupuncture treatment at my clinic at no cost to them (provided they haven’t already used all of their MSP subsidized sessions). Community Acupuncture (CA) clinics are unique in our sliding scale fee model, designed to provide accessible services to people from all income levels. There are about a dozen CA clinics across Canada, of which our Keremeos clinic is one. Many people may benefit from no-cost treatments for a wide variety of ailments – that is, up to ten, or 22 if on Disability – every year, and not realize it.

Most extended health plans cover acupuncture as well. Most plans do not require a doctor referral, but some may. However, people do not require a doctor referral for the standard ten MSP extended health subsidies.

Acupuncture has been shown in controlled studies to be beneficial for many kinds of pain, stress, anxiety and depression, addictions and smoking cessation, and many internal health concerns. The World Health Organization list of diseases that may benefit from acupuncture can be found at http://www.evidencebasedacupuncture.org/who-official-position/, and their review of controlled clinical trials is here http://apps.who.int/medicinedocs/pdf/s4926e/s4926e.pdf.

With the current opiod crisis taking a tragic toll on individuals, families and our shared public health resources, now more than ever would we all benefit from affordable, accessible, natural, and proven relief from pain, stress, and other health concerns. Acupuncture is an excellent alternative to addictive pain medications, and a great preventative to more serious emergency care.

If you have low income clientele who would benefit from a no-cost, drug free treatment option to compliment their standard care, they can be referred to Okanagan-Similkameen Community Acupuncture, in Keremeos or Penticton, or even just informed they may have the option of no-cost acupuncture right here in our community. I can look up their Personal Health Number (PHN) to determine eligibility if they do not know. As a high volume clinic I am usually able to get people in for assessment and treatment within a week.

If you would like more information about acupuncture in general, potential coverage, or what I do in particular at the clinic in Keremeos, please feel free to contact me anytime.