Coalition calls for a Universal Drug Program
The last Resort System
New Brunswick’s Board of Economic and Social Inclusion Corporation held public consultations over potential changes to the prescription drug plan to make it more inclusive for non-insured individuals.
This was in response to New Brunswick recognition of the growing poverty, which includes the older population.
New Brunswick is still without a catastrophic program. As a result, residents are left to find private plans or potentially face considerable costs in the case of a catastrophic event.
· Coalition recommends the province work with the federal government for the implementation of a Universal Pharmacare Plan.
· A public drug insurance plan should form an integral part of the country’s Pharmaceutical policies.
· The plan should tie together social programs designed to provide a minimum of well-being for all Canadians.
Background - Option: If a senior is not eligible for the low income seniors plan and does not have private coverage, there are two options:
1. The Department of Social Development determines whether one is eligible for drug coverage based on income, assets, and medical cost needs. If an individual is approved, they will receive a health card that indicates approved coverage amount, which is in addition to the general Medicare card. This plan does not guarantee approved applicants full coverage of all drug costs and the process for determining eligibility is not transparent and is assessed on a case by case basis.
2. Medavie Blue Cross Senior’s Prescription Drug Program - Provided by a private insurance company, the program offers the same drug coverage as the public plan for low income seniors but at a higher monthly rate of $105. (This amount is reduced to $18 per month when a senior qualifies for the guaranteed income supplement.) It also requires an additional co-payment fee (maximum $15.00 per prescription) for every new or refill prescription.
This type of coverage varies considerably across provinces.
Catastrophic drug coverage is provided by all provinces except for New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. Most provinces have measures in place that help contain drug costs to anywhere from 2% through 8% of income.