Our national healthcare system will cover a big portion of your health bill. But when it comes to prescription drugs, you are pretty much on your own. Only 60% of Canadians have a private medical plan and sometimes these plans won’t cover all of their drug costs.
That’s why a lot of people are talking about creating a national Pharmacare system. Pharmacare would cover the cost of prescription drugs for all Canadians, regardless if they can afford them or not. This idea has been gaining support from both the left and right.
The Institute for Research on Public Policy and Canadian Doctors for Medicare both released reports highlighting the value of Pharmacare in Canada. The Toronto Star published a recent editorial outlining the benefits of a Pharmacare system.
Even politicians are beginning to support the idea. Ontario’s Health Minister wrote an opinion piece in the Globe and Mail arguing for a national Pharmacare plan. Even Federal Conservative Health Minister Rona Ambrose was willing to make a commitment to begin talks about the possibility of creating a national drug plan.
The discussion around Pharmacare doesn’t just focus on the benefits the plan would provide to millions of Canadians. They also talk about cost savings. Universal Pharmacare would save up to $11.4 billion each year, according to an report commissioned by the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions. The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives believes savings would be worth $10.7 billion. The C.D. Howe Institute, a centrist think tank, came out with a study arguing we could save nearly $1-billion in revenue every year.
Has the time come for a national Pharmacare plan? Let’s hope support for the program continues to grow over the next few years. That will give Canadians access to life-saving drugs that might be too expensive to afford.