Want to understand more about retirement health coverage?

Let us help you make sense of the retirement health benefits puzzle.

Planning for retirement is a busy time. There’s so much to think about you might not know your health benefit plan in retirement is different from the health benefit plan you have while working. When you retire, any extended health care and dental coverage you were receiving through your employer will stop; however, you can apply for retirement health coverage.

Without a good basic knowledge of retirement health benefits, it can all seem a bit puzzling. Would you like to learn more about your retirement health benefit options? Here are some basic facts about the retirement health coverage available through BC’s Public Service Pension Plan.

Green Shield Canada is your retirement health coverage provider

Green Shield Canada (GSC). It’s a not-for-profit insurance carrier that provides health care benefits for groups and individuals, as well as administration services, and an app and health portal where you can track activities, read up on health tips and earn reward points.

The Public Service Pension Plan does not administer retirement health coverage; however, we’re happy to answer questions about coverage when you’re planning to retire.

For details about eligible expenses, maximum reimbursements, deductibles and coverage, read the Green Shield Canada My Benefit Plan booklet or contact GSC. Public Service Pension Plan staff does not have the information to answer questions on these topics.

You have retirement health coverage options

Optional coverage is available for you, your spouse and any eligible dependants through the plan’s insurance carrier, Green Shield Canada:

Extended health care coverage: Optional extended health care coverage is available to pay for medical services and products that aren’t covered by the Medical Services Plan of BC and other provincial health plans. If you decide to enrol, you will pay a monthly premium that may be subsidized based on your years of pensionable service. However, the plan does not subsidize the cost of monthly premiums for your spouse or any eligible dependants.

Dental plans: Two optional dental plans – Essential Dental and Enhanced Dental – are available (each with different premiums, deductibles and eligible services) for you, your spouse and any eligible dependants. If you enrol in one of these dental plans, you’ll be reimbursed for costs associated with preventive and restorative dental services. You must pay the full cost of monthly premiums. Dental coverage is not subsidized.

For more information about coverage options and eligibility requirements, see Retirement health coverage and you.

Note: retirement health benefits, including extended health care and dental, are not guaranteed; the Public Service Pension Board of Trustees may change coverage at any time.

There is a difference between group rates and subsidies

Group rates and subsidies are not the same. Group rates take advantage of collective buying power; they provide access to the same lower rates for everyone in the group. When you enrol in retirement health coverage through Green Shield Canada, you will automatically benefit from group rates.

Subsidies, on the other hand, are assessed individually. The Public Service Pension Plan will subsidize the cost of a member’s monthly premiums (for extended health care only) based on their years of pensionable service. However, the plan does not subsidize extended health care premiums for spouses or dependants.

Dental plan coverage is not subsidized.

Note: subsidies for retirement health benefits are funded by employer contributions and are not guaranteed; they can be changed or eliminated at any time.

Enrolling in retirement health coverage has a deadline

You should enrol when you apply for your pension – within 60 days of your pension effective date. This is one of the most important steps in the retirement process because you cannot enrol after you retire unless you’ve had continuous coverage in a different extended health care or dental plan since your retirement date (for example, if you were covered under a spouse’s plan).

When you apply for your pension, we’ll provide you with information about the extended health care and dental plans available to you. You can apply for these plans for yourself, your spouse and any eligible dependants.

You must pay a premium to receive coverage

A premium is the amount you pay in exchange for coverage. You must pay monthly premiums to receive extended health care or dental coverage.

Any premiums you are required to pay for your retirement health coverage are automatically deducted from your monthly pension payment. However, if your pension payment doesn’t cover the cost of the premiums, you can arrange to pay Green Shield Canada directly through pre-authorized debit.

Premiums are deducted one month in advance. For example, February premiums are deducted from your January pension payment. Extended health care coverage begins the month your pension is effective; dental coverage begins the first of the month after the month your pension is effective.

For more information on premiums and payment schedules, see Retirement health coverage and you.

You don't prepay for retirement health coverage when you're working

As an active member contributing to your pension, it’s important to note that you do not prepay for retirement health coverage. Subsidies for extended health care coverage are funded by employer contributions, and neither member contributions nor investments can be used for retirement group health benefit subsidies. For more information, read the learning article Funding of health and dental benefits in retirement.

Keeping an eye on the future

Woman getting her eyes examined

Choosing whether to enrol in extended health care or dental coverage means keeping an eye on your future. It’s important to consider how your health needs may change as you age and what kinds of retirement health coverage you may need in the long term.

The Public Service Pension Board of Trustees continues to monitor available funding levels for retirement health coverage. With the growing number of retired members and inflation of prescription drug costs, the board will review, as needed, the plan’s retirement health benefits program to ensure it can be maintained for the long term.

Understanding the retirement health coverage available to you will help you plan for a safe and secure retirement future.