Loyalty points being shelved

The decision by the B.C. government to deny consumer loyalty points to PharmaCare recipients has negatively affected many poverty and health-stricken people in B.C. by placing them at a disadvantage to other citizens using the same loyalty cards to purchase prescriptions or other retail products that don’t require PharmaCare. Loyalty points of varying values are fully costed into the retail markup in stores and were previously provided at no extra cost to PharmaCare clients because every consumer purchase qualified to loyalty card holders.

The decision by the B.C. government to deny consumer loyalty points to PharmaCare recipients has negatively affected many poverty and health-stricken people in B.C. by placing them at a disadvantage to other citizens using the same loyalty cards to purchase prescriptions or other retail products that don’t require PharmaCare. Loyalty points of varying values are fully costed into the retail markup in stores and were previously provided at no extra cost to PharmaCare clients because every consumer purchase qualified to loyalty card holders.

For example: Customer A purchases a $100 prescription, uses their loyalty card and receives 1,000 points — 8,000 points entitles them to $10 off a future purchase.

PharmaCare customer B purchases a $100 prescription, and if awarded 70 per cent of the costs would receive 300 loyalty points. (The percentage paid by PharmaCare is on a sliding income scale.)

The loss of points has a deleterious effect on PharmaCare clients who are often limited by mobility or other factors on where they can make other retail purchases. The PharmaCare customer being denied loyalty points now subsidizes this retail operation’s in-house markup policy for Customer A that doesn’t use PharmaCare services.

The budget for PharmaCare is one of the fastest growing in health care. Since 2000/01, the PharmaCare budget has increased by almost 67 per cent — from $654 million to almost $1.1 billion in 2010/11.

So what happened to the state-denied 700 loyalty PharmaCare points which are factored into the cost of the retail products in the store?

If the B.C. government believes that low-income earners and those with health issues and high prescription costs in our society should be denied those points, shouldn’t they also require those loyalty points be cash rebated to PharmaCare to offset rapidly escalating costs? This has the potential to save millions of tax dollars over the long term.

The bipartisan Select Standing Committee on Health is presently looking at all aspects of the health care system. The decisions made by this committee will affect everyone in B.C. The chair of that committee is Norm Letnick the MLA for Kelowna-Lake Country. He is inviting submissions and can be contacted at: norm.letnick.mla@leg.bc.ca. Or a petition to restore consumer loyalty points to PharmaCare clients can be found at: www.gopetition.com/petitions/pharmacare-and-consumer-loyalty-points.html.

Alternatively, anyone could start an online petition to have those loyalty points cash-rebated towards the costs of PharmaCare.

Whether you are a PharmaCare client with high drug costs or government dealing in billions of dollars, small things can make a big difference.

Elvena Slump

 

Penticton