June 24, 2024

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GNWT sets income threshold for new extended health benefits

2 min read

The NWT government has published the income threshold below which residents eligible for a revamped health benefits program can access it for free.

The Extended Health Benefits policy doesn’t apply to many northerners, but it does cover thousands of people who can’t access health coverage through work or other forms of government insurance.

An updated approach to Extended Health Benefits was finalized in September last year, despite vocal opposition from people who said it could remove benefits from some residents with serious existing conditions – or make acquiring those benefits much more costly.

There was also some opposition to income testing, which the GNWT said last year would determine how people in the program are helped to pay for prescription drugs, eyewear, dental treatment, medical equipment and some medical travel – things basic NWT health coverage does not cover.

The GNWT said that approach would ensure “benefits are allocated based on individual income levels, promoting fairness and equitable access.”

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On Tuesday, the territorial government published the initial thresholds for that income testing.

If your annual net income falls below the following level, depending on where you live – and you need Extended Health Benefits because you can’t access coverage any other way – you’ll be able to access the benefits for free once the new program kicks in on September 1:

  • Tłı̨chǫ: $30,605
  • South Slave: $30,622
  • Yellowknife: $31,134
  • Dehcho: $32,327
  • Beaufort Delta: $37,153
  • Sahtu: $37,628

The GNWT said it had used Statistics Canada pricing and affordability data to “accurately capture the true cost of necessities in each region” and devise its income thresholds.

“Eligible residents, whose income falls below the low-income threshold, are covered for a suite of benefits at no cost,” the GNWT stated in a news release.

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If you’re eligible for the program and your income is above the threshold, the territory added, you “must contribute to covering a portion of the cost” of drugs, medical supplies or equipment acquired under the program. (The GNWT says it has an online calculator to help people figure out what the new program means for them.)

If you rely on benefits from your employer, you’re a senior, or you use the Non-Insured Health Benefits or Métis Health Benefits programs, these changes don’t affect you.

The GNWT has estimated more than 2,000 people not otherwise covered are reliant on Extended Health Benefits.

Unsure if this applies to you? Read the GNWT’s Q&A.

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