Public Sector Benefits Update #2

April 13, 2017

The BCGEU continues to monitor the impacts of the decision of the Government to change the benefit carrier for all public service employees to ensure your benefits are protected. As of April 1, Great West Life – GWL is now the benefit carrier for the BC Public Service.
Here are three issues we have addressed this week and we will update further as needed.
1.     Deductible
Members had reported that while we had been told that member information would be shared with the new carrier, in some cases this did not occur. This meant that some members were told that they would have to pay another deductible until this was resolved. In order to prevent this, the BCGEU and the Public Service Agency have agreed to the following:
The extended health deductible will be waived by the new carrier, Great West Life, during the transitionary period until all claims information is loaded into the GWL’s system.  This will prevent an employee from double-paying their deductible and needing to receive a refund at a later date if GWL does not have the most up to date claims information.  The final claims load is anticipated to be complete by the end of July. Once all of the claims information has been loaded into GWL’s system, any outstanding deductible amounts will be assessed and required to be satisfied from future claims.  Any outstanding deductible amounts at the end of the calendar year will carry forward into the next year if an employee was reimbursed for expenses but did not satisfy the deductible within the current plan year.
This agreement should ensure that members are not out of pocket for more than the agreed to deductible for their benefits.
2.     Special Drug Authorities
In some circumstances the carriers need special drug authorities to approve payment of some drugs. We understand that members will need to provide GWL with any special authority approvals they had previously received and provided to Pacific Blue Cross, and any new special authorities received from now until the process has been finalized with GWL.
Currently, there is a 90-day grace period from the new carrier and the BCGEU is monitoring this transition. Questions about special drug authorities can be directed to Health Insurance BC. They are available by phone:
From the Lower Mainland, call 604 683-7151
From the rest of B.C., call toll-free 1 800 663-7100
For questions about PharmaCare, Customer Service Representatives are available:

Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (except statutory holidays)
Saturday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. (except statutory holidays)

3.     Liquor Distribution Branch
The BCGEU was advised by LDB Management that they may not have received information about the change in benefit carriers in a timely way from Government. The BCGEU continues to monitor this to ensure members who work for the LDB receive timely information from the employer.
4.     Questions and Problems?

The Public Service Agency (PSA) has advised that members with other questions should consult the Frequently Asked Questions on MyHR, as most common questions have been answered there. If you need further information about claims or coverage, contact GWL directly. Their general number is 1-855-644-0538 – operating hours are Mondays to Fridays from 5:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.