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.
Starting Aug. 1, eligibility thresholds for both programs will be updated to reflect the cost of living increases in Ontario and align with income support programs for seniors.
Income thresholds will be updated for single Ontarians aged 65 and over, from $19,300 to $22,200, and for couples with a combined annual income, from $32,300 to $37,100. 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.
“This is especially good news for Niagara, a region with a growing number of seniors,” said Sam Oosterhoff, MPP for Niagara West. “Ontario’s government continues to put vulnerable patients at the centre of care by providing seniors with the support they need to access affordable dental care and prescriptions. We are taking another step in creating a sustainable and connected health care system that is built for the future.”
Mobile dental hygienist Marisa Mannarino, who operates Dental Care in Motion in Hamilton and Niagara communities, said the improved eligibility comes at a very good time. “We have seen new studies that correlate periodontal disease with COVID-19,” she explained. In one study, patients with a severe form of gum disease were three times more likely to experience COVID-19 complications. “This opportunity of free dental coverage for low-income seniors comes at a very needed time,” she said.
In 2019, the Ontario government launched the Ontario Seniors Dental Care Program to provide free routine dental care for eligible low-income seniors across the province. 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.
The government said that by ensuring seniors can access effective dental care and continue to afford the medications they need, the Ontario Seniors Dental Care and Seniors Co-Payment programs help to reduce unnecessary trips to the hospital and improve seniors’ quality of life.
For the Seniors Co-Payment Program, seniors who are eligible under the new income thresholds are can apply now in advance of the start of the upcoming benefit year on August 1st, 2021.
The government said that 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 an application has been submitted, eligibility will be assessed to confirm enrollment for the year.