Financial Assistance for Psychiatric Medications
Reprinted from "Medications" issue of Visions Journal, 2007, 4 (2), p. 32
Did you know that British Columbia’s PharmaCare program includes a specific plan to provide financial assistance for most psychiatric medications?
It’s the No-Charge Psychiatric Medication Plan, also known as Plan G. It’s available to individuals of any age who are registered with a mental health service centre and who demonstrate clinical and financial need.
Registration for Plan G is simple. Your doctor may already be familiar with the process. Both you and your doctor must complete and sign a form called the Application for Psychiatric Medication Coverage. This form is available online at www.health.gov.bc.ca/pharme/plans/.
You will need to phone your local mental health centre to determine where to send your completed application. Look under “Health Authorities” in the blue pages of your telephone book and find the “Mental Health & Addiction Services” section.
Each mental health centre may have a different procedure for processing registrations, so be sure to phone ahead to find out about any special requirements the centre may have, such as in-person registration and verification of income. For residents of Vancouver and Richmond only, your doctor should fax the completed application to 604-874-7698.
A signed Plan G application form is valid for up to one full year from the date that it is processed. A new application form must be signed each year in order for you to remain on Plan G. Ensure that your address and telephone number are current on the application form, in case the mental health centre needs to contact you about your registration.
Frequently asked questions about Plan G
Q: “I think I earn more than the family income limit stated on the form, and I still can’t afford to pay for my medications. Can I be registered under Plan G?”
A: Talk to your doctor. If you feel the cost of your prescription will make it difficult to continue treatment, your doctor could request a clinical exception by explaining this in section B of the application form.
Your doctor can also find out more about Plan G and the medications it covers by visiting the PharmaCare web page at www.health.gov.bc.ca/pharme/plans/index.html
Q: “Yesterday I went to the pharmacy to pick up my prescription and was told that my Plan G has expired. I have been on Plan G for the past couple of years, so why did this happen now?”
A: There are two reasons why your Plan G coverage may have ended:
A new application form must be submitted for every year. If you haven’t applied in the past couple of years, your registration would have expired. Contact your doctor to reapply.
If you began to receive British Columbia Benefits (Income Assistance or Disability Benefits) after being registered for Plan G, you would have been removed from Plan G and registered under another PharmaCare plan called Plan C. Plan C pays for all prescription medications, including those covered by Plan G. If your BC Benefits are discontinued, the Plan C coverage ends, and you are not automatically re-registered for Plan G. You should let your doctor know that a new Plan G application form must be submitted.
Q: “How long will it take to complete registration once I’ve submitted my application?”
A: Processing time can vary from centre to centre. Usually, there is a quick turnaround time of a few days, but you can phone to follow-up with your centre if it appears that your application hasn’t been processed within about a week.
Q: “I asked my doctor about Plan G, but he’s never heard of it and he doesn’t have the application forms. What should I do?”
A: Tell your doctor to contact your local mental health centre for more information on Plan G. Mental health centres are listed in the telephone directory’s blue pages under “Health Authorities.” Or, if you reside in Vancouver or Richmond, ask your doctor to call the Vancouver/Richmond Plan G office at 604-874-9113.
About the author
Daryn is currently the Plan G Administrator for Vancouver and Richmond.