MAY 9, 2019 12:53 AM
As universal pharmacare gets closer to reality for Canada, drug companies are ramping up their false rhetoric. They say a universal, public pharmacare plan would result in worse access to medicines, higher costs and less innovation in Canada. Don’t believe them.
Canada is the only high-income country with a universal, public health-care system that does not include universal, public coverage of prescription drugs. Instead, we have an incomplete patchwork of private and public drug-insurance plans financed and managed separately from our medicare system. That is insane.
Contrary to pharma’s claims, our private-public drug-insurance system performs worse than universal, public pharmacare systems in terms of access, costs and innovation. Here’s why:
The incomplete nature of our patchwork of drug plans leaves about one in five Canadians uninsured. As a result, about one in 10 Canadians skips prescriptions simply because of the out-of-pocket costs.
Each year, nearly 400,000 Canadians use additional medical and hospital services — services we all pay for — because they skipped prescriptions owing to out-of-pocket costs. More than 300 Canadians die prematurely each year as a result.
That alone should make universal pharmacare a national priority — an emergency.
But there are even more problems with our private-public drug-insurance system. For example, our heavy reliance on work-related private drug plans places strains on Canadian businesses. Continue reading