As of October, with the inclusion of New Brunswick, every Canadian province will have a catastrophic drug plan in place. These last resort measures protect families from medical bankruptcy and losing access to life saving treatments. There are slight variations in plans, but New Brunswick is adopting a model with no ceiling on spending for assistance. To qualify, candidates must simply exceed a certain percent of family income in drug spending. For the poorest families, this is 3% and for the wealthiest, payments in excess of 12%, assuring universal coverage for those in need, regardless of their backgrounds.
This follows the existing adoption of a Catastrophic Drug Plan by the province of PEI, in May, which put pressure on New Brunswick not to be left out. While about 69% of Canadians have employer-related private insurance to help pay for the cost of treatments, with about $900 per capita drug spending, and an increasing number of retirees leaving the work force at a time when their demand for prescription drugs and medical treatments is highest, this provides a welcome cushion.
Waste of money or financial good sense?
Investing in drug coverage is big money, but it’s also financial good sense. For a stark comparison, the leading cause of bankruptcy in the United States is medical bills, while a need to stay on employer-provided insurance at all costs stifles risk-taking entrepreneurialism. And, under the US system, the general price of drugs is higher, with less positive health outcomes in the general population. Proponents of the American system point to results like more resources for clinical research, but pharmaceutical sales are only one way of assuring new drug development, and can be supplemented by government level industry investment grants for greater overall savings.
These catastrophic plans increase the overall market for lifesaving treatments that are crucial for a high quality of life, a reassuring indicator of future employment possibilities after you complete your pharmaceutical courses.
What level of availability do you think Canadians should have to pharmaceutical treatments?