The government of Canada offers a supplemental healthcare package to its federal employees and their dependents called the Public Service Health Care Plan (PSHCP). This plan further offsets patient-side healthcare costs associated with the country's provincial and territorial healthcare systems. The supplemental nature of the PSHCP has raised questions about the taxability of its premiums. The PSHCP's premiums are not tax-deductible and are subject to sales tax.
PSHCP and the Canadian Healthcare System
Canada's health care infrastructure is governed according to individual provinces and territories. Health care services are government-funded using tax revenue levied on residents. For this reason, the residents of a province or territory receive these services automatically. The PSHCP is a voluntary plan available to Canada's federal employees, which covers some or all of several expenses associated with basic provincial or territorial health care services.
PSHCP Structure and Coverage
The PSHCP classifies health care services as either Extended Health Care Benefits or Hospital Benefits. Extended Health Care Benefits cover up to 80 percent of the costs associated with outpatient services including office visits, prescription medication and eye-wear, ambulances and physical therapy. The plan offers Hospital Benefits that cover expenses associated with inpatient services, including procedures and short-term care. Participants may choose from three levels of Hospital Benefits that reduce daily co-payments to between $60 and $220.
Except for those who opt for Level I Hospital Benefits, there is a monthly cost to participate in the PSHCP. In other words, the plan is free for those who choose Level I. Those who opt for Level II are charged a monthly premium of $1.10 (singles) or $3.53 (families). Level III coverage carries a monthly premium of $5.31 (singles) or $10.34 (families).
The premiums for coverage beyond Level I Hospital Benefits are taxable under provincial and territorial sales taxes. For instance, Ontario and Quebec residents are charged a 13 percent harmonized sales tax (HST) on the premiums they pay for Level II and Level III coverage.