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MSP needs to leave



I’m by no means a bow tie-wearing policy wonk with all the answers concentrated into neatly stacked and meticulously stapled white papers, I just think with end goals in mind, and faith, we can build the roads there. I’m driven by my passions, so I don’t know if any amount of logical analysis or wonkery could dissuade me from the now firm belief that there is no better future for the citizens of British Columbia than bringing down the Medical Services Premium with fire and bulldozers.

I love universal healthcare, I love that this country is able to see the benefit in being there for each other, and giving at least the bare minimum in support of society’s health. (Although I think pharma and dental are areas we can go even further.) I’m more than willing to pay to support the health of this society, both through principle, and because it’s for the betterment of all, and costs us less in the long term.

What I am not willing to do any longer is put up with the headache that is the MSP plan. Waiting on hold for a Revenue Services agent and various human resources departments has taken up at least a solid half day of my life, all told, in the last year. First, you have the forms to sign to get covered under your employer (which isn’t a given), and the duplicates to set up a premium assistance plan if your household income was under $42K last year. And then there’s the kerfuffle of your work and your partner’s work both covering your spouse (through deductions, neither will cover it outright), so you accidentally double paid into MSP, but for some reason no one at Revenue Services seemed to notice.

All three B.C. provincial parties have publicly made commitments to wanting to see MSP gone, but with varying degrees of specifics in regards to how they would make up for the lost revenue. Rates are going to be cut in the coming year, but I think we should move past the foreplay, and just go ahead and collect the revenues from a progressive tax. As it stands, for those of us making over $42K in a year, we all pay the same flat amount of MSP, which means those on the lower end of the scale are hit harder. The fact that there isn’t consistency in employer support — whether it’s paid at all, if it’s a percentage, and if it’s deducted from wages, or just covered outright — means often those more capable of carrying the burden don’t really have to. I’d rather pay the same or higher amount as a one-off payment through an increase in income tax, as well as higher taxes on businesses. (Yeah, even small ones, you want your employees showing up and healthy.) Not only will this spread out the cost in a more equitable manner, but there are substantial savings (near $77 million according to NDP MLA Carole James earlier this year) to be had in eliminating the needlessly complicated and inefficient collection system.

I don’t know where this is on the priority list, considering everything else wrong with our government and society, but I would appreciate if some gears in the machinery could get moving, so I can move onto my next personal inconvenience to yell about.

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