Changes will enable thousands more low-income seniors to access care
The province is expanding access to dental care and affordable prescription drugs for vulnerable seniors.
The Ontario government is updating the income eligibility thresholds for the Ontario Seniors Dental Care Program and the Seniors Co-Payment Program to allow more of Ontario’s most vulnerable seniors to have access to dental care and affordable prescription medications.
Deputy Premier and Minister of Health Christine Elliott says the government continues to support seniors by ensuring they have access to the quality dental care and medications they need.
“Expanding access to these programs to even more low-income seniors builds on our government’s ongoing efforts to protect hospital capacity and will help improve the quality of life and well-being of low-income seniors,” she says.
Starting August 1, 2021, eligibility thresholds for both programs will be updated to reflect cost of living increases in the province and align with income support programs for seniors.
Income thresholds will be updated for single Ontarians aged 65 and older, from $19,300 to $22,200, and for couples with a combined annual income, from $32,300 to $37,100.
The province states this will allow approximately 7,000 more seniors to access the Ontario Seniors Dental Care Program and 17,000 more seniors to access the Seniors Co-Payment Program in 2021-2022.
The province launched the Ontario Seniors Dental Care program in 2019 to provide free routine dental care for eligible low-income seniors. The Seniors Co-Payment Program enables low-income seniors to access the medication they need with no annual deductible and a reduced co-payment for each prescription.
Since the launch of the dental care program in 2019, more than 50,000 Ontarians have enrolled in the program.
Raymond Cho, Minister for Seniors and Accessibility, says good oral health is linked to not only better physical health, but also better overall mental health.
“These programs help provide seniors with the dignity they deserve and help to improve their quality of life.”
The two programs help to reduce unnecessary trips to the hospital and improve seniors’ quality of life by ensuring seniors can access effective dental care and continue to afford the medications they need, says the province.
For the Seniors Co-Payment program, seniors who are eligible under the new income thresholds can apply now in advance for the start of the upcoming benefit year on August 1, 2021. The province says applying early will help ensure eligible seniors receive the reduction in their drug deductible and co-payment on time to minimize the chance of out of pocket expenses.
Once the application has been submitted, eligibility will be assessed to confirm enrolment for the year.
On the first day of the month after an Ontarian turns 65 years old, they are automatically enrolled in the Ontario Drug Benefit (ODB) program, which covers most of the costs of more than 5,000 prescription drug products. Seniors pay the first $100 of their prescription drug costs each year (the deductible) and up to $6.11 for every prescription (the co-payment).
The Seniors Co-Payment, under the ODB, allows eligible seniors that are enrolled in the program to pay no annual deductible for their drugs and a reduced co-payment of $2 for each prescription, improving access to essential drugs that they may not otherwise be able to afford.
For the Ontario Seniors Dental Care Program, eligible seniors can apply at any time online, by downloading and printing the application form, or by picking one up at their local public health unit. The form can be submitted online or by mail.
For the application to be assessed under the new income thresholds, seniors who are eligible under the new income thresholds for the Ontario Seniors Dental Care Program can apply beginning July 1, 2021.
For the Seniors Co-Payment Program, seniors who are eligible under the new thresholds can apply now by completing the application found online or by requesting an application over the phone toll free at 1-888-405-0405.