Pharmacare plan a no-brainer

Do you know someone who, in the past year, has chosen not to buy a prescription drug ordered by a doctor because they could not afford it?
Would you choose to skip medication because you had a choice of putting food on the table or going hungry so you could get well?
Statistics tell us that 10 percent of Canadians make this decision daily. And many of those end back in hospital emergency care.
Statistics Canada, in a survey, found that 24 percent of Canadians have no drug coverage.
“Obamacare” offers up pharmacare to its subscribers, and is part of the universal program that has been created in the United States.
Here in Canada, our medicare program provides universal health-care coverage, but we also are the only country in the world with a universal health-care program that excludes coverage for drugs.
It is a program we are extremely proud of and often have used as a contrast to U.S. health care. If you are in a hospital in Ontario, OHIP will cover all the medicines that you require during your hospital stay or treatments.
Once you leave the hospital with prescription in hand, however, you are on your own hook for the cost of the medicine. You may have alternate insurance to cover your medicines through your employer but few plans actually cover 100 percent of the costs.
As well, some plans choose what drugs that they will cover, disallowing costly treatment drugs.
In Britain and France, patients either are fully reimbursed or pay a minimal dispensing fee to the pharmacist.
A study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal dismissed the myth that including drug care in medicare would result in higher taxes. In fact, the authors of the study found that universal drug coverage would save Canada $7.3 billion every year, with a 32 percent reduction in overall spending on prescription drugs.
It is worth noting that Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, France, and Sweden have lower costs and lower growth in costs with universal public drug coverage than we do in Canada.
The consolidation of the buying power of all 10 provinces and three territories would create a much stronger bargaining position when negotiating with large pharmaceutical companies.
It would appear a universal pharmacare program for Canadians would be a solid plan.
Back in 1964, the Royal Commission on Health Services recommended a universal drug program be established for all Canadians.
When Stephen Harper was in opposition, he promoted such a program. Former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, in 1997, recommended universal drug coverage.
Today, NDP leader Thomas Mulcair and Liberal leader Justin Trudeau are championing a universal pharmacare program.
Can this become an election issue? It will save taxpayers billions—and create huge savings for government-run medicare programs across Canada.
It seems to be a no-brainer.

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