‘Pharmacare’ – remember that word?


For many years – I would guess, at least, the last 12 years of Liberal government – an election promise has been broken time and time again. That would be a national pharmacare program. Despite all of our well-placed worries about the deterioration of our medicare system the biggest single health expense for Canadians, be it directly out-of-pocket or indirectly through private insurance, is prescription drugs. Jean Chretien, with Paul Martin as Finance Minister, promised a national “pharmacare” program – their word, not mine.What happened Paul?

Most provinces have a program to assist with ‘catastrophic drug costs’, perhaps even indirectly funded with federal transfers, but it is a patchwork quilt. For anyone, like me, with a private insurer medications must be paid for up front, receipts submitted to the insurer, partial reimbursements sent back to me, and then the balance is eventually (usually quarterly) paid back by the province. It is a lot of paperwork and presupposes that I have the money – or credit – to pay, in my case, over $3000.00 every month for my antiretrovirals and assorted other medications to deal with their side-effects. (I assume that it’s a little less cumbersome for anyone without private insurance.)

I do not know how this long-promised, never delivered, pharmacare plan would apply to the partially-insured such as me. I would like to hear more about it.

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