Free pharmacare in the works

Plans are in the works to extend cost-free pharmacare to residents over the age of 65.

More than 4,400 prescription drugs will be available free of charge of charge to the approximate 2.6 million seniors across Ontario beginning in August 2019.

Under this program, anyone over the age of 65 will no longer have to pay a deductible or co-payment and would be able to present their eligible prescription and OHIP number at any Ontario pharmacy and receive their medications for free.

As of Jan. 1, 2018, prescirption drugs became free for all residents under the age of 24, marking one of the largest expansions of the province’s health care system in a generation.

Currently, everyone 65 and over is eligible for prescription drug coverage through the Ontario Drug Benefit (ODB) program, which requires seniors to pay deductibles and co-payments based on their income and other factors. Under the ODB, seniors are paying an average of $240 a year out of pocket for their medications.

Seniors are the fastest growing age group in Ontario. It is projected by 2041 that one-quarter of the province’s population will be over the age of 65.

“The costs of health care can cause anxiety and stress, especially for people 65 and over who are living on fixed incomes and are often required to take multiple medications. We all want the best care for our parents and grandparents, and I believe government needs to do more,” Premier Kathleen Wynne stated in a press release. “Providing prescription drugs at no cost for millions of seniors is going to make life more affordable and help seniors stay healthy and independent. It is the right thing to do for seniors and their families. With nearly one in two people now to receive free prescriptions, we are that much closer to the universal pharmacare program that people need. We are leading Canada forward. And we can’t turn back now.”