On Wednesday the advisory council on the implementation of national pharmacare issued its report, which reads like the secret to the philosopher’s stone — a legendary recipe for turning lead into gold.
The council, chaired by former Ontario Liberal health minister Dr. Eric Hoskins, has recommended the federal government implement a universal, single-payer, public pharmacare system for prescription drugs.
It suggested the federal government work with the provinces and territories to create a formulary of covered drugs, starting in 2022, with the goal of putting a comprehensive system in place by 2027.
Coverage would include not only the estimated one in five Canadians who are either uninsured or under-insured, but also those currently covered by private or public drug plans.
Hoskins said a universal plan would result in cost savings of around $5 billion when fully implemented, as the government negotiates bulk-buying deals with drug companies. Canadian families would save an average of $350 a year on out-of-pocket expenses, while businesses would save an average of $750 per employee on prescription drug insurance. The health care system would benefit to the tune of $1.2 billion in savings from 220,000 fewer emergency room visits and 90,000 few hospital stays every year, the report suggested.
The only losers would be private insurers, drug companies and pharmacists — and who cares about them?
Hoskins said Canada can’t afford not to adopt the council’s plan, given the $34 billion (and rising) the country spends on prescription medicines every year.