Prescription drug coverage is changing -under the new OHIP+ program- less than 24 hours after Ontario Premier Doug Ford unveiled his “all-star” cabinet at Queen’s Park.
Minister of Health and Long-Term Care Christine Elliott says it’s “more efficient, saving the taxpayers money and dedicating resources to the people who need it most.”
The OHIP+ program -which provided free meds for Ontario residents 24 and under- is now covering only those who don’t have existing prescription drug benefits.
Kathleen Wynne’s Liberal government rolled out pharmacare on Jan. 1, 2018 — with a $465 million price tag.
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But now it’s being revised and “children and youth who are not covered by private benefits would continue to receive their eligible prescriptions for free,” said Elliott.
This means those who are covered by private plans would bill those plans first, with the government covering all remaining eligible costs of prescriptions.
“Since insurance plans can cover thousands more drugs than the 4,400 currently available through OHIP+, children and youth would have access to more medications than under the current program,” said Elliott.
Private insurers have previously given the government a grace period for some medications, which is set to expire on July 1.
“We are asking those insurance groups to extend this grace period as we make these changes,” Elliott said.
“We look forward to working with insurance groups to ensure a smooth transition to this updated system.”
The Liberals also extended pharmacare coverage to seniors, making prescription drugs free for Ontario residents ages 65 and over starting August 1, 2019.
Commonly prescribed drugs for cholesterol, hypertension, thyroid conditions, diabetes, and asthma were to be covered.
It’s unclear where it stands.
Ontario is the first province to provide prescription medication coverage at no cost for children and youth age 24 and under.