As 2018 quickly approaches, so too does the rollout of Ontario’s new youth pharmacare coverage for those aged 24 and younger. The plan, which launches on Jan. 1, 2018, will provide universal coverage of all medicines listed in the Ontario Drug Benefit formulary.

But will the government’s program, also known as OHIP+, lead to savings for plan sponsors on their group benefits plans?

Read: Sounding Board: A primer on OHIP+ for private payers

Only in rare cases, according to Robert Crowder, president of the Benefits Trust in Vaughan, Ont. While he recently met with a plan sponsor that will see major savings for its group benefits plan under the government program, the case, he notes, is an anomaly.

The employer has a dependant child who’s taking a drug that costs $20,000 a year. “This is a small company, they only have about 12 employees, and it’s a material amount, obviously,” he says. “It’s affecting the cost of their benefit program considerably and, as a result of this program . . . it’s going to assist them a great deal.” 

But the new youth pharmacare plan won’t affect the majority of plan sponsors because most don’t have youth dependants taking expensive drugs, adds Crowder. “This was a very rare thing, period. So is it going to affect them? Absolutely not.

“But on those rare occasions where you’ve got that combination of a child, a dependant taking a very expensive drug and it’s a smaller employer, yes, there’s going to be a dramatic effect. But the stars and the moon and the sun have to line up.”

Read: The impact of Ontario’s public drug program changes on private plans

Nevertheless, Ontario’s move represents a significant change for the drug landscape in 2018. So what’s your opinion? Will Ontario’s new youth pharmacare program deliver meaningful savings for plan sponsors next year? Have your say in this week’s online poll.

Last week’s poll question asked whether or not it’s a good idea for employers to consider so-called climate leave policies to recognize their workers’ needs during emergency situations such as the recent hurricanes in the United States. More than half (53 per cent) of respondents said yes, employees need to know their employer is there for them during difficult times. The remaining 47 per cent of respondents said it’s unnecessary to add another type of leave and that most employers are reasonable and have existing methods to provide support to workers.

Read: Have your say: Should employers offer a climate-related leave policy?

Copyright © 2018 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on benefitscanada.com

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