Ontario, Canada Unveils Free Prescription Drugs Plan by 2018

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Canada is currently the best country to live in for so many reasons other than Justin Trudeau!

Ontario, one of Canada’s 13 provinces, recently announced it would provide free prescription drugs to anyone 24 and under the age of 24 regardless of their or their family’s income. This plan will be implemented on January 1, 2018.

The 2017 budget for Ontario was unveiled on Thursday, 27 April and the free prescription drugs promise was the biggest item in the budget. 4 million children up to the age of 24 will be provided free prescription drugs according to the budget allocation. The program will cover the cost of more than 4,400 prescription drugs for young people in the province.

The Liberal government representatives stated this initiative was the first of its kind in medical care in the whole country. They have been rallying for a national pharma care plan, which has not come to fruition yet but officials are hopeful for a nod from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Ontario’s plan shows it is possible and it can be done on the national level as well. Though the current federal government has shown least interest in pharma care.

The Finance Minister of the province, Charles Sousa, stated that the Government understands its people’s plight and that increased cost of living has made it difficult for people to make ends meet. Therefore, this plan will help people in reducing their everyday costs. Ontario estimates the program will cost $465 million per year.

“I can’t think of any analogous policy initiative that would have as much of an impact as this would have,” said Frank Swedlove, president, and CEO of the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association.

Public health plans vary by province in the country. Some only cover patients who meet certain age or income requirements or have certain medical conditions. Private insurance and benefit plans, paid for individually or through employers, come with deductibles, co-pays and limitations on what is covered. Although a doctor’s visit in Canada does not include handing over cash or a credit card, filling up a prescription at a pharmacy is a costly business.

In case this budget and the plan are approved, it will not only relieve the public and users of the drugs but also the general insurance providers since they won’t be covering those drugs in insurance plans, thought to result in lower premiums, expanded coverage or both.

The Ontario New Democratic Party Leader Andrea Horwath had released a similar version of a pharma care plan a few days before the Liberal drug plan was announced in the budget, covering 125 of the most commonly prescribed drugs and promised to be implemented if she becomes premier following next year’s election.

The current Liberal plan includes funding the abortion pill RU-486. The budget also highlights allocation for day care centers. The plan is to open up 100,000 such spaces for the public starting this year.

With the United States currently embroiled in repealing the previous Obamacare and putting healthcare on the back burner, Ontario’s plan sounds like a breeze of fresh air. Whether this would lead to a widespread national pharmacare plan for every Canadian citizen is yet to be seen.

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