As American politicians jump around like bugs on a hot stove arguing about the best way to provide their citizens with medical coverage, or not, we watch from north of the border knowing we have Universal Health Care. But what we don’t have is universal pharmacare. Canada has some of the highest prescription drug costs in the world and a couple of years ago an Angus Reid poll found that almost one in four Canadians chose not to fill or renew their prescriptions, or else skipped doses, because of the high cost of buying medicine.
Canada’s Parliamentary Budget Officer in a report issued yesterday figures we could save about $4 Billion annually, mostly from the impact of the bulk purchase of drugs, as well as an increase in the use of generic drugs, If we had a universal pharmacare program. The Budget Officer looked at the costs of a plan that would be universal to all of us, replace provincial and private drug plans, and significantly cut out-of-pocket expenses. Under such a plan, seniors, pregnant women, kids, people with disabilities and on EI or welfare would have zero expenses with everyone else paying a maximum of $5 for a brand name prescription drug and nothing, zero, for a generic drug. Of course the feds say they will analyze the report but that the existing prescription drug system needs to be more efficient and responsive before we can discuss moving to universal drug coverage. Uh huh, and I wouldn’t hold your breath waiting for THAT to happen. It’s far more important to get recreational weed on the shelves by next summer. Do you ever wonder about this government’s priorities?