Drug changes panned, praised… But groups say health care will benefit from savings

The provincial government, through the Ontario Drug Benefit program, pays for most drugs for roughly 2.8 million citizens, including all people over the age of 65, welfare recipients, residents of homes for special care and the disabled.

Health officials say they’ll save more than $500 million through the changes announced this week.

Ontario first attempted to control the subsidies with legislation in 2006. That legislation was criticized for ignoring private employer drug plans.

The proposed changes announced this week would apply to the private plans. That prompted praise from some in the business community.

“Over the past several years, health-insurance costs for Ontario’s automakers have been one of the fastest rising costs of doing business,” said Mark Nantais, president of the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association.

Nantais said the changes would help boost competitiveness and manage rapidly rising drug costs within employee-sponsored benefit plans.

Ontario spends $3.4 billion annually on the publicly funded drug system. Just over one-quarter of that is spent on generics, according to officials.

Roughly 85 to 90 per cent of Ontarians are covered by private insurance plans and the ODB. The remainder pay for the entire cost of drugs on their own.

© The Windsor Star

Keywords: costs, healthcare, drugs, pricing