While Canada has a universal healthcare system, this system does not universally cover prescription drugs, nor does it address out-pocket-costs that many, including breast cancer patients, face when they navigate our healthcare system. Every country that has a universal healthcare system also has universal prescription drug coverage – every country but Canada. This results in unequal access to treatment based on a variety of factors, such as where a person lives, the type of insurance they have, their age, their income, and more. To address this, many have suggested implementing national pharmacare – a universal drug coverage system that is publicly funded. We’ve written on pharmacare in the past, on what it is and why it should matter to breast cancer patients and on where Canada’s federal parties stand on pharmacare.
Did you know that accessing treatments for stage IV metastatic breast cancer (mBC) is not universal across Canada? We live in a country that promotes universal health care to all but accessing cancer treatment varies by each province.
Timely access to medications is a key concern for any breast cancer patient, but drug access in Canada has long been a minefield to navigate. Inequitable access to medications across provinces, drug shortages and long wait times to access new treatments are just some of the issues patients and their families routinely encounter in their quest for treatment. National Pharmacare-a plan to reimburse prescription medications in a similar fashion as our healthcare system-has often been proposed as a solution to many of the drug access issues that Canadians currently experience. While Pharmacare has been debated nationally for a long time, it is only recently that the idea has gained real traction and momentum.
On June 12th, the Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare released their final report looking at the implementation of a national program to address the inequities that Canadians currently face when it comes to drug access. It outlines 60 recommendations, steps to implementation and key details on things like co-pay, budget costs, strategy for rare diseases, and impacts on patients and providers. Below, we’ve summarized these key details for you to better understand how this new plan for pharmacare would impact you and your family.
It’s just the start of 2019 but we’re already thinking about fall and the federal election it brings with it. Last year, there was a lot of talk about the establishment of a national pharmacare plan. The federal government assembled a working group to study the best way a system like this would work in Canada.