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Drugs: “Medicare’s unfinished chapter”

Picture of prescription drugs.

Momentum is building for universal coverage for prescription drugs. (www.canstockphoto.com)

Prepare for a wave of misinformation about the costs of providing universal pharmaceutical coverage in Canada, especially now that momentum appears to be building towards the idea.

The most recent endorsement comes in the form of an editorial in the Globe and Mail Sunday which strongly supports universal access. “It makes no sense to divorce pharmaceutical treatment from the principal of universality,” the Globe states. “More and more health care is pharmaceutical care and Canada is the only developed country with universal health insurance that doesn’t provide full coverage for medications.”

The Toronto Star made its own endorsement in an editorial November 28, calling pharmacare “medicare’s unfinished chapter.”

An endorsement by the Globe is likely a stand-in for approval from Bay Street – not entirely a surprise given the obvious advantages to employers. Drugs are the largest benefit cost they face and the premiums have been escalating faster than inflation. The overall savings of a universal public plan – estimated to be as much as $10.7 billion annually – would easily offset any tax adjustments (if any) necessary to cover such a plan. Those savings represent about five per cent of all health spending – both public and private.

The Globe is endorsing the idea of universality, but has so far reserved comment on a publicly administered system suggesting more study is needed.

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