Canadians are split on the main benefits of a proposed publicly-funded universal drug program, according to the Canadian Medical Association’s annual national report card on health care.

Fifty per cent of respondents believe the main advantage of such a program is that it would provide lower drug prices because all provinces would work together and purchased large quantities of prescription drugs, while the other 50 per cent believe the main advantage is that it would extend prescription drug coverage to those Canadians who don’t have it.

Residents in Quebec (58 per cent) are more likely to view the advantage of a universal drug program as lowered drug prices, while residents in Ontario (55 per cent) and the Atlantic provinces (57 per cent) are more likely to view the advantage as extended drug coverage.

Read: Universal drug plan could cut spending by $7.3 billion: analysis

When asked what the federal government’s funding priorities should be, 84 per cent said a strategy for seniors health and 83 per cent said mental health services. This was followed closely by prescription drugs (80 per cent), palliative care (80 per cent), home care (79 per cent) and caregiver support (78 per cent).

However, more than half (55 per cent) of Canadians believe the health-care system is underfunded and any new money should be used to improve existing services, while fewer (45 per cent) believe any new money should go toward modernization and innovation to transform the health-care system.

“The federal government has noted that it would like to see ‘transformative improvements’ made to the health-care system, including new investments in home care, a commitment to help coordinate bulk prescription drug purchases by the provinces and new investments in mental health,” the report said.

“While these initiatives are all strongly supported by Canadians, a majority of Canadians feel the current system needs to be shored up before new initiatives and any modernization is put forward.”

Read: National pharmacare not needed: study

The report card also found:

  • Canadian’s ratings of the overall quality of health care have rebounded back to 2010 levels with nearly three-quarters (73 per cent) assigning an A or B letter grade.
  • Younger Canadians (18-34) are more likely (81 per cent) to assign an A or B grade, compared to those aged 35-54 (68 per cent) and those aged 55 or older (73 per cent).
  • Canadians in Alberta (80 per cent), Saskatchewan and Manitoba (78 per cent) and Ontario (76 per cent) were the most likely to assign an A or B grade.

Read: Employers want to be heard on national healthcare: report

Copyright © 2017 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on benefitscanada.com

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Corey Vermey:

Such a deceptive title: the article however is clear that 50% believe the main advantage of a universal national drug plan is that it would provide lower drug prices, while the other 50% believe the main advantage is that it would extend prescription drug coverage to those Canadians who don’t have it. In other words 100% of Canadians polled believe a universal national drug plan will lower costs and/or extend drug coverage. Sounds like a winning idea.

Thursday, August 25 at 1:34 pm | Reply

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