Saturday, March 09, 2013


This morning I got up and found this story on the front page of the paper.

Coverage for prescription drugs (and for other medically necessary things like blood sugar testing strips or canes or braces but this one is just about drugs) is one of the holes in the Canadian medical system.  Unless you have a benefit plan through work or a private insurer you are on the hook for any prescription you get.  Which means that there are many people (some of whom may already qualify for another program but refuse to use/are unaware they qualify for it) who do not get the drugs they need because they can not afford it.

TO cover off this many provinces have some form of a coverage plan for specific population sectors (often for seniors, often for those on Social Assistance).  Some of us believe that there should be national standards for such programs (some of us even would prefer a national plan but since health care is a provincial responsibility under the Canadian Constitution that seems unlikely).  The question, of course, is who gets covered and how is it funded.

On the face of it this article describes a good idea.  Combine a variety of programs and expand who is covered.  Set it up so that those who can afford more pay more.  All good.  Yes this means that some people, particularly seniors, who are currently covered will end up paying more.   But that does not necessarily worry me.  SOme people under a blanket plan are in a financial position that they need the coverage, others can clearly afford to pay more and so they should.  Yes this is often politically challenging since seniors are a bloc that vote more than say 20 year olds but sometimes the politically challenging stuff needs to be done in the greater interest.  But there was a problem as I see it.

How do you claim to be expanding coverage and also claim to be saving that amount of money (claimed to be up to $180 million annually)?  That makes me suspicious.  There is stuff in this announcement I like and support.  But that part makes me suspicious.  How will they save that much?  Who will pay that cost?

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