Friday, August 22, 2008

Medicare not universal without coverage of prescriptions, new CMA head says

From the Globe and Mail:
Canada's medicare system cannot truly be considered universal until it starts providing access to prescription drugs regardless of a patient's ability to pay, the new president of the Canadian Medical Association says.

"If access to diagnosis is universal, why isn't access to drugs?" Robert Ouellet asked yesterday in his inaugural address.

"The current health system is universal only in half-measures. If we were diagnosing the problem, we would say it suffers from hemianopsia" - blindness in half the visual field.

At least 600,000 Canadians - nearly all of them in Atlantic Canada - have no drug coverage at all. Another six million people have inadequate drug coverage - meaning basic treatments for common conditions such as diabetes pose a serious financial hardship.

Canadians spent $20.6-billion on prescription drugs last year, according to the Canadian Institute for Health Information.

Dr. Ouellet noted that Quebec is the only province with a universal prescription drug plan and urged other provinces to follow suit. ...more

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