“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.”
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.