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UPDATE: Further Changes to Sun Life PSHCP

Retired Canadian Armed Forces members will take a financial hit effective April 1, 2015 when new Public Service Health Care Plan (PSHCP) contribution rates for retired members are introduced.

The new cost-sharing ratio will change from the current 25:75 (retired member: employer) to a 50:50 model over a four-year phase-in period.

“We are intent on ensuring the Public Service Heath Care Plan remains affordable and sustainable for public servants, retirees and Canadian taxpayers,” said Tony Clement, president, Treasury Board of Canada.

Starting April 1, 2015, and each April thereafter, the contributions paid on a monthly basis by retired members for their PSHCP supplementary coverage will gradually shift, until an equal cost sharing arrangement is achieved.

According to the PSHCP website, these changes are consistent with the government’s commitment to ensuring compensation is reasonable and affordable, as well as aligned with similar plans offered by other public sector and private sector employers.

If a CAF member retires and begins receiving an immediate on-going pension under the Public Service Pension Plan, they may continue their PSHCP membership without interruption.

If the member does not receive an immediate pension, their coverage terminates when their employment terminates. However, if a PSHCP contribution has been taken in the month in which their employment terminates, coverage will continue until the end of the following month.

As a retired member, contribution rates will be different from those the member paid as an employee. The rates for pensioners living in Canada are listed in the monthly contribution rates in Schedule V of the Public Service Health Care Plan Directive.

Pensioners living outside Canada will pay higher rates and may not be covered for the same hospital expenses as pensioners living in Canada.

Other changes within the past six months to the PSHCP, according to the Sun Life Bulletin, are the result of a joint recommendation by the Public Service Health Care Plan Partners Committee, the collaborative forum for the resolution of issues pertaining to the Plan, comprised of employer representatives, bargaining agents, and pensioner representatives.

“The Canadian government has offered voluntary health benefits to its retired member population since 1960, and we recognize its importance,” said Clement of the recent changes being implemented to the Plan.

Effective October 1, 2014, the following benefits enhancements were introduced for costs incurred on or after the effective date for all members of the PSHCP and reimbursed at 80 per cent.

The vision care benefit has been expanded to include reimbursement for elective laser eye surgery with a lifetime maximum benefit of $1,000.

Coverage for repairs, replacement parts and servicing of aerotherapeutics devices with an annual maximum benefit of $300, reimbursed at 80 per cent pending a physician’s confirmation of a member’s level of sleep apnea.

Finally, the annual maximum benefit for psychological services has increased from $1,000 to $2,000.

The PSHCP is an optional health care plan for federal Public Service employees and their eligible dependants. It is designed to supplement provincial health insurance plan. In other words, the Plan will reimburse members for all or part of their costs for their eligible medical services and products once they have taken advantage of the benefits provided under their provincial/territorial health insurance plan or another third party source of health care assistance to which they are legally entitled.

The PSHCP provides voluntary, supplementary health care benefits to public service employees, employees of designated separate employers, MPs and senators, retired public service employees, and eligible dependents as well as dependents of the Canadian Armed Forces and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

In total, the PSHCP has over 630,000 members, of which almost 300,000 are retired members and covers over 1.4 million Canadians. It is the largest employer-sponsored health care plan in Canada.

Refer to the Public Service Health Care Plan Directive for full information on rates and coverage.

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Vicki L Morrison

Thanks to her husband's military career Vicki reinvented herself as a writer so she could work from home, while taking care of their three kids. A former MFRC executive director Vicki is a passionate advocate for military families who loves telling their stories.

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