Far too many Canadians are unable to afford their essential medications every month. A national, universal pharmacare plan will ensure access to medications is equitable, improve the health of Canadians, and lower the cost of prescription drugs for families, workers, governments, and employers.
Why it matters
- Prescription drugs are an essential component of health care, but our current mix of public and private drug plans provides unequal access to medicines and isn’t cost effective.
- Nearly 8.4 million workers don’t have employer-based health benefits, nearly 25 per cent of households include someone who is not taking their medication as prescribed because of cost, and 1 in 10 patients can’t afford to take their medication at all.
- Workplace benefit plans are under major stress. Employers are limiting the medications that are eligible for coverage and workers are being asked to pay more through higher deductibles and copayments, or the lowering of plan maximums.
- No one should have to worry about being able to pay for the medicines they need when they need them.
How current policy is falling short
- Canada is the only developed country with universal public health care that doesn’t include coverage for prescription drugs.
- Our current mix of over 100 public and 100,000 private drug plans provides unequal coverage based on age, income, employment status, and place of residence.
- Because our system consists of multiple payers purchasing prescription drugs, we can’t consolidate the bargaining power needed to negotiate lower drug prices with pharmaceutical companies.
- Canada currently pays the world’s third highest per person costs for prescription drugs.
- Canada spends more on prescription drugs than we do on physicians. The amount we spend on prescription drugs will continue to increase at a rate greater than the amount we spend on both hospitals and physicians.
What should be done
- Canada should implement a national, public pharmacare plan that provides prescription drug coverage to everyone. This is the only way we can achieve the dual goals of providing fair and equitable access to prescription drugs while also making them more affordable.
- The plan should be publicly administered and delivered.
- Everyone should be able to access the medications they need by showing their health card at the pharmacy without having to pay any fees.
- An independent agency free from industry influence should develop the list of medications to be covered by the plan and should include all safe, effective, and evidence-based drugs. The agency will also negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies.
- The federal government should take a strong leadership role by covering at least 50 per cent of the cost of the plan.