British Columbia


British Columbia offers its residents one of Canada’s most comprehensive drug plans through BC PharmaCare. “PharmaCare provides financial assistance to British Columbia residents for eligible prescription drugs and designated medical supplies. This program provides reasonable access to drug therapy and is an integral part of the health system that serves British Columbians” (Welcome to BC PharmaCare, BC Ministry of Health).

What plans are there for me?

Residents of British Columbia are eligible for PharmaCare benefits under the following plans:

  • Fair PharmaCare – provides financial assistance for eligible prescription drugs to BC families based on their net income. Click here to access the Fair PharmaCare calculator to estimate how much financial assistance you can receive.
  • Plan B - covers the full cost of eligible prescription drugs for permanent residents of licensed long-term care facilities.
  • Plan C - provides full coverage of eligible prescription costs for BC residents receiving medical benefits and income assistance from the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction.
  • Plan D – provides free digestive enzymes to individuals with cystic fibrosis (who are registered with a provincial cystic fibrosis clinic)
  • Plan F – provides community-based, family-style care for severely handicapped children. Contact the Ministry of Children and Family Development for more information.
  • Plan G – is available to individuals who are registered with a mental health service centre and who demonstrate clinical and financial need.
  • Plan Wis available for First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) clients, it is a fully funded program and not income tested. The plan covers 100% of eligible prescription costs and certain medical supplies, certain over-the-counter drugs, some natural health products, and pharmacy services.
  • BC Palliative Care Benefits Program – provides coverage of medications used in palliative care.

For more information on these plans visit “PharmaCare Plans” by the British Columbia Ministry of Health.

What special opportunities are there for PHAs?

BC is one of the few provinces in Canada that offers special coverage for PHAs. The B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS provides free antiretroviral drugs for PHAs enrolled at the Centre. The centre is supported by the BC Ministry of Health and is funded by BC PharmaCare. The BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS operates from St. Paul's Hospital in Vancouver. St. Paul's Hospital is a leading institution that serves 65% of PHAs in the province.

What does PharmaCare cover?

BC PharmaCare covers eligible drugs prescribed by your physician, surgeon, dentist or nurse. BC PharmaCare also covers insulin, needles, and syringes for people with diabetes. And lastly, BC PharmaCare may cover certain prosthetic appliances and children's orthodontic devices. For more information on coverage, visit

What is special authority?

Special Authority grants coverage for drugs for which you would normally only receive partial coverage for. Click here to explore the list of drugs you may want to receive through special authority.

What are limited coverage drugs?

Limited coverage drugs are generally not considered first-line therapies. To receive coverage, Special Authority approval must be in place before the patient purchases the prescription.

What is the Trial Prescription Program?

The Trial Prescription Program encourages the dispensing of a small quantity (10-14 days supply) of expensive medications with known side effects. Click here for a list of the drugs currently associated with the Trial Prescription Program.

Medical Services Plan of BC

The Medical Services Plan (MSP) is BC’s health care plan. It does not cover prescription drugs (for that, you need BC PharmaCare) however, for some programs such as Fair PharmaCare, you must first enroll for the Medical Services Plan. Health Insurance BC is the administrative umbrella under which you can find both the Medical Services Plan (MSP) and BC PharmaCare.

Considerations for Travelers

If you are a British Columbia resident and a Canadian physician prescribes a drug for you outside of British Columbia, you can still receive your drugs from a British Columbia pharmacy. However, you may not be covered under BC PharmaCare. It is best to consult with your physician/pharmacist beforehand. Read more about medical care outside British Columbia.

If you are planning to move to British Columbia, be aware that you will not be able to receive prescription drug coverage until you qualify EF as a resident of the province, which may take several months.