It’s the hole at the centre of medicare. Canada is the only developed country with a universal health-insurance plan that doesn’t include coverage for prescription drugs.
Canada also spends far more each year on prescription medicines than most developed countries, while paying some of the world’s highest prices. In 2017, individual Canadians, governments and private insurance plans spent an estimated $39.8-billion on drugs dispensed outside of a hospital.
Drugs are now the second-biggest item in Canadian health care, ahead of physicians.
When it comes to prescription medicines, Canada’s system looks a lot like the United States: Many people have drug insurance through their workplace; provincial plans cover some groups, such as seniors; and a lot of people simply fall through the cracks. Around 10 per cent of Canadians are believed to have no drug insurance at all. A similar number are believed to be underinsured.