National drug plan a panacea?

by Will Ashworth17 Jul 2015
The Angus Reid Institute and Mindset Foundation surveyed 1,556 Canadians in early July about drug costs in Canada. It found that 91 per cent of Canadians desire a national pharmacare program to go along with the provincial healthcare plans that already exist.
“I don’t think anyone anticipated … that high number of people coming back and actually saying this is an [issue] for us,” says Shachi Kurl, senior vice-president of the Angus Reid Institute. The institute, noted Ms. Kurl, is not pushing for a national program. The study, she said, is “an attempt to understand the real experiences of Canadians when it comes to drug costs.”

While the demand clearly exists from Canadians for such a plan, BC certified health specialist Ken MacCoy believes this isn’t a good idea.

“The government can’t be expected to provide a national drug program… as that would result in additional taxes,” said MacCoy talking about what this means for the average Canadian. “Personal taxes are high enough and in a roundabout way... we would just end up paying for our own drugs.”  

However, Canada, according to Dr. Steve Morgan, director of Centre for Health Services and Policy Research at the University of British Columbia, is the only developed country with universal healthcare and not providing some sort of prescription drug coverage.

“We have known in the past that approximately one in 10 Canadians doesn’t fill their prescriptions … because of the cost of the prescription to the family,” Dr. Morgan said, referring to a Statistics Canada study and one other from 2007, on which he was the senior author. “What we now know is this affects nearly one in four families in Canada.”
It’s a serious issue no doubt but what does it mean for advisors.

“I don't promote individual drug plans. They are a pain for just a 10% commission. They’re not worth the hassle,” MacCoy feels. “Bottom line a national drug plan wouldn't make a difference to most advisors because if they were to depend on the income from selling individual health plans to make a living ...they're in the wrong business.”


  • by John Wilson 2015-07-17 1:12:18 PM

    Hi guys, John Wilson, EPC here from Niagara Falls, Ontario.

    Ken MacCoy is spot on about agent/brokers dying on the vine trying to sell such a plan, either individually or to a group,
    and the raising of taxes.

    My take is that those that NEED it (pre-existing conditions) will certainly want the government to take care of this.

    I don't think the poll would have asked, " If you do not have a pre-existing condition, what would YOU be willing to
    pay for this, $ 1,000.-, $ 2,000.-, $ 5,000.- or more per year ? "

    When you read / hear about people needing a certain cancer drug at $ 400,000.- plus a year - which I suspect is the
    underlying driver for a national plan it makes this a further no win situation.

    OHIP originally didn't have a vision of people needing 6 or more meds on an on-going basis. Don't think the CAT scan
    or MRI was even in existence back then, and of course there were not the number of seniors that are here today, also
    being bolstered by the " kids " having parents / grandparents immigrate to Canada becoming covered by OHIP and
    seriously using it - without having paid one cent in to it - more pressure on the system.

    Guess we better eat more veggies, quit smoking, get back to 180 lbs from 300 and whatever else could be done to
    be healthier to start with.

    I see young kids looking like human beach balls (maybe too much time spent on video games) and a lot of " Jabba the hut's "
    riding around on scooters because they are too big to walk.

    Physician, heal thyself might be a preventative start.

    Perhaps " points " for good health that can be " banked " until we have a problem ? (But, that no doubt would need a
    bureaucracy to monitor / administrate this, so there goes the savings again).

    Some days you just can't win, eh !