National pharmacare in the news again

A new study came out in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) this week suggesting that national pharmacare in Canada would save a minimum of $4.2 billion. I’ve written about this topic before, and I hope that this study will prompt our government to make national coverage for prescription medications a reality.

The study points out that by spending more on drug coverage, more Canadians will be able to stick with their health plans and will stay healthier, preventing medical visits that would otherwise cost the system money. Companies that now pay for insurance coverage for their employees will also be able to take that money and use it elsewhere. These savings, plus the ability to get medications for less by negotiating better with drug companies through one central buyer, will make this plan worthwhile.

For what it’s worth, the study indicated that, across Canada, the government spent $871 million on biologics in 2012-2013 — that’s 0.7% of the total government expenditures on medications (page 5). The authors estimate that a national pharmacare program would cause the costs of biologics to drop between 31% and 73% in future years, saving between $266 and $633 million per year. Now that’s a sale!

In order for our politicians to act on this study’s suggestions and turn national pharmacare into reality in Canada, they have to overcome two major obstacles:

  1. they have to ignore private insurance companies that want to keep most medical insurance in Canada in the private sector, and
  2. they have to ignore private citizens and extreme conservative groups who do not understand that spending a little more in one area can save a lot more in other areas of the budget, leading to overall savings.

If you would like to take the next step toward getting national pharmacare off the ground in Canada, sign this petition and/or write or tweet your MPP. The more our politicians realize how big the demand for national medical coverage that includes prescription medications is, the more likely they are to make it happen.

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