B.C. government boosts health coverage for low-income kids

September 6, 2017

Keith Burgess for CBC News: Sep 01, 2017 

Dental coverage increased from $1,400 to $2,000 over 2 years; hearing aids now fully covered

The B.C. government is pouring an extra $6 million into a health-care fund for low-income kids.

The BC Healthy Kids program will now get a total of $30 million a year to help cover costs for dental care, glasses and hearing aids.

The NDP government has boosted the dental allotment set by the previous Liberal government from $1,400 to $2,000 over two years.

It will also now fully cover hearing aids, which the previous program did not. 

The government says 166,000 children will benefit from the changes.

"We did believe this initiative by the previous government was a step in the right direction and we were happy to complete it," Shane Simpson, minister of social development and poverty reduction, told guest host Gloria Macarenko on CBC's On the Coast.

Program to be re-assessed 

The government has contracted Pacific Blue Cross to determine who's eligible for the fund.

Families are qualified if their kids are younger than 19 and if they receive an MSP subsidy, which is earmarked for household incomes less than $42,000 a year after taxes.

To use the service, parents must show their child's BC CareCard or BC Services Card.

The dental coverage doesn't include orthodontics, but can be accessed in cases of emergency if the limit is reached.

Simpson said he'll re-examine the program in a few months with the B.C. Dental Association to determine whether there's sufficient coverage.

The program also now includes hearing aids and cochlear implants.

"B.C. probably had the second-worst record among provinces in terms of providing these supports around primarily dental services and hearing aids and hearing supports," Simpson said.

"This will bring us into the middle of the pack and will certainly be of great help to a number of kids who require those services."



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