The Canada Health Act provides a framework for the Canadian health system and a mechanism for federal healthcare funds to flow to the provinces. Presently, the Canada Health Act covers medically necessary hospital, physician and surgical-dental as well as limited long-term care services, but not prescription medication. Though not mandated, each province has chosen to also develop a prescription drug benefit plan. These plans differ with respect to the groups that are covered and the type of coverage provided. In this paper, we describe the key structural elements of the various provincial plans. In addition, using a population-based national health and mental healthcare survey of 33,000 Canadians, we explore the characteristics of the population currently not covered by prescription drug benefits. Finally, we look at a sub-population of Canadians with mental illness with regard to their insurance coverage and use of prescription drugs. Our findings suggest that drug coverage within provinces is working for individuals with chronic physical conditions only. The findings herein reaffirm the need for a national strategy, support the notion that prescription drug coverage is important, and raise questions about the role of employers in providing these benefits.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine
- Applied Psychology
- Social Psychology
- Psychiatry and Mental health