The Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) wants the public’s input on proposed changes that would qualify more NWT residents for supplementary health benefits under the GNWT’s Extended Health Benefits Policy.
There are two programs currently administered under the policy: the Specified Disease Conditions Program is for eligible residents with one of several identified disease conditions, and the Extended Health Benefits for Seniors program is for senior citizens aged 60 and older. This new initiative does not include any changes to the NWT Extended Health Benefits for Seniors Program, which provides full coverage for eligible prescription drugs, eyewear, dental treatment services, medical supplies and equipment, and medical travel.
The Specified Disease Conditions Program is under review. It provides prescription drugs benefits and, in some cases, medical travel benefits for residents diagnosed with certain identified diseases. The intent of the proposed changes is to provide NWT residents who have limited financial means access to a suite of benefits like those provided by other insurance programs.
The proposed policy changes include the introduction of a new Supplementary Health Benefits Program for such things as dental services and eyewear, and a new Drug Benefits Program. Eligibility for both programs would be based on a person’s ability to pay. To qualify individuals and families would complete income testing. Those who earn below a specified annual income, and who have no other insurance, would qualify automatically for health and drug benefits.
The Extended Health Benefits Policy has seen little change in the last 34 years. As a publicly funded program, it does not currently meet the objectives of fairness and equity because there are financial barriers for some residents that limit their access to important drug therapies and preventive services that help to maintain good health. Under the current policy, there are an estimated 2,200 NWT residents who do not have access to any benefits like the ones available to most residents through employer or government insurance plans.
Existing benefits for Indigenous residents under the federal NIHB (Non-insured Health Benefits for First Nations and Inuit) program and the GNWT Métis Health Benefits program are not part of this discussion.
Before any policy changes are made, the GNWT wants residents to review the current policy, consider the proposed changes, and provide feedback.
Residents are invited to read about the proposed changes to the Extended Health Benefits Policy and participate in a survey.
The survey can be accessed online at https://haveyoursay.nwt-tno.ca/extended-health-benefits until October 14th, 2022.
- This review does not include any changes to the NWT Extended Health Benefits for Seniors Program.
- Existing benefits for Indigenous residents under the federal NIHB program and the GNWT Métis Health Benefits program are not part of this discussion.
- One proposed change is to determine a person’s eligibility for supplementary health benefits based on their annual income. The low-income threshold could be the poverty line, as set by Statistics Canada. For most regions in the NWT that is $32,601 in annual income.
- When determining a family’s eligibility for supplementary health and drug benefits under the proposed new policy, each dependent child would add $9,451 to the base low-income threshold.
For media requests, please contact:
Department of Health and Social Services
Government of the Northwest Territories
(867) 767-9052 ext. 49034