There has been a lot of debate about national pharmacare coverage of catastrophic drug costs in government, the media, and among health policy experts, yet patients—who will be the ones most affected—have rarely had their say.

To get a better understanding of what patients value in terms of a national drug coverage program Ward Health, on behalf of The Cameron Institute surveyed patient advocacy organizations throughout Canada. Nearly 40 national associations responded to the survey. This is what we learned.

Based on the response, Canadians want catastrophic drug coverage, and very few agree that Canadians are able to get the medically necessary prescription drugs that they need when they need them:

  • 95% completely agreed that drugs are an essential part of healthcare, and that all Canadians regardless of income or any other status should have access to drugs for serious illness or disease.
  • 72% completely agreed that all Canadians should have access to any and all drugs and therapies prescribed by their physician.
  • 66% completely agreed that all Canadians regardless of where they live should have access to new drugs as soon as they are approved as safe by Health Canada.
  • 16% completely agreed that Canadians are able to get the medically necessary prescription drugs that they need when they need them

Catastrophic drug coverage is essential to the financial security of Canada’s seniors and middle class:

  • 83% of those surveyed completely agreed that most seniors, who are dependent upon government drug plans which usually cover only old drugs, should receive the same access to new and more effective drugs as do wealthy Canadians or people with private insurance.
  • 74% completely agreed that Canadian governments should pay for catastrophic drug costs so people do not lose their homes.
  • 50% completely agreed that governments should pay for expensive drugs for people without good private insurance or lots of money.

The lack of a national pharmacare plan makes Canadians less equal:

  • 72% of survey respondents completely agreed that current government drug plans focus on lowest drug price; therefore a lot of people do not receive the best drugs available. Government drug plans should pay for what is best for the patient as determined by the patient’s physician.
  • 72% completely agreed that governments should insure Canadians who have no drug insurance.
  • More than 70% believe that a child’s life should be valued at more than $50,000 per year when it comes to covering potentially life saving drugs

Source: Ward Health Catastrophic Drug Coverage—Patient Survey. May 2016; Ward Health, Ontario, Canada.