August 26, 2013

The Scope of Public Pharmacare in BC and Quebec

written by Josie  Newman

Although most of the Western provinces offer some form of income-based public pharmacare, British Columbia has the best program. Quebec is unique in that it is the only Canadian province with mandatory pharmacare, but its drug prices are unnecessarily high due to the government's failure to monitor prices charged by drug manufacturers.    

British Columbia

Similar in scope to Ontario's income-based Trillium plan, British Columbia has a Fair Pharmacare Program which covers 70% of prescription drug costs for residents born after 1939. But unlike Ontario's generous pharmacare for seniors, those British Columbians who are born before 1939 are eligible for Enhanced Fair PharmaCare which only covers 75% of costs.

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Everyone enrolled in Fair Pharmacare has 70% of their prescription costs covered, but those who pay deductibles pay full prescription costs until they have paid their annual deductible. After that, they are covered for 70% of costs until they reach the maximum payment for their income level at which point they are covered for 100% of costs.

August 13, 2013

Pharmacare: What is Publicly Funded in Ontario

written by Josie Newman

Here in Ontario, we excel among other provinces in our coverage of seniors' drug costs. We cover those on social assistance, ODSP, and in long-term care but there is plenty of room for improvement in our coverage of the working poor and others who have marginal incomes. 

PharmaCare for Seniors

Through the Ontario Drug Benefit Plan, our province's biggest publicly funded pharmacare program, full pharmacare coverage is provided to residents 65 and older regardless of income. Seniors in the lowest income bracket pay no deductibles for their prescriptions, while the remainder of seniors pay an annual $100 deductible. 

Seniors who earn less than $16,018 per year if they are single or less than $24,175 per couple pay no deductibles but do pay $2 each time they get a prescription filled. Those single seniors who earn more than $16,018 pay an annual deductible of $100 and up to $6.11 each time they fill a prescription while those senior couples who earn more than $24,175 annually pay a $100 deductible between them and up to $6.11 to fill each prescription.   

ODB also provides full coverage, with no deductible and up to $2 per prescription, to Ontarians in long-term care facilities, those utilizing home care or those receiving Ontario Works and ODSP. 

August 6, 2013

Public Pharmacare in Canada: The Current Situation

written by Josie Newman

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Similar to dental care, pharmacare in Ontario and the rest of Canada shows an alarming lack of integration with the rest of our health care system. Only 44% of our prescription drugs are publicly funded while 90% of our hospital costs and 99% of our medical costs are paid for with public dollars! Even worse, 18% of prescription drugs are paid for by people's own money while 38% is paid for through private insurance plans. It's estimated 23% of Canadians forego filling their prescriptions due to lack of money.

Most sectors of Canadian society are now advocating for federal public pharmacare as it's been proven in other countries that it is less draining on the public purse and gives the entire population access to needed prescriptions regardless of income. One public system would cost less than several smaller systems because there would be fewer administrative, marketing and regulatory costs, and there would be much greater sway during price negotiations with drug manufacturers. If we paid as little per capita for pharmaceuticals as the UK, which has a fully integrated pharmacare system, we could spend $14 billion less than our current annual drug costs of 33 billion!