Benefits plan members, sponsors cite low levels of knowledge on pharmacare: survey

While 67 per cent of Canadian plan members described their level of knowledge about a possible national pharmacare program as low or medium, 27 per cent said they don’t know anything at all about it, according to the 2020 Sanofi Canada health-care survey.

Among plan sponsor respondents, 73 per cent described their level of knowledge as medium or low, with 13 per cent reporting not knowing anything at all about pharmacare. Employers with fewer than 50 employees were more likely (23 per cent) to have no knowledge. And just 14 per cent of all plan sponsors reported a high knowledge level.

“If pharmacare were defined as the federal government taking on coverage for drugs for rare disease, you would have every employer and probably every insurer saying, ‘Let’s get that done.’ That’s a win for everyone,” said Chris Bonnett, a principal at H3 Consulting and an advisory board member. “As an industry, we can do more to tackle the tough first steps. We can’t wait on government. Plan sponsors should not be stuck in the middle, nor should patients.”

Read: What are the implications of pharmacare reform for private drug plans?

More than half (59 per cent) of plan members said they’re concerned about national pharmacare’s potential impact on their workplace benefits plan, unchanged from last year. However, this jumped to 78 per cent among plan members with a high level of knowledge.

The survey also found 77 per cent of plan sponsors said they support a national pharmacare program that would replace all current provincial and workplace drug plans, to ensure everyone gets the same coverage and the same drugs are covered everywhere. This increased to 83 per cent among plan sponsors with a high level of knowledge.

The level of support for pharmacare decreases to 68 per cent when the scenario is modified to include the likelihood that the employers and/or Canadians would have to pay a new tax, that pharmacare may cover fewer drugs and that coverage for new drugs may take longer.

The modified scenario also suggested that, if there is a new plan sponsor tax, it may be offset by not having to pay for the current drug plan. The result rose to 80 per cent among plan sponsors with a high level of knowledge. Considered in another way, 65 per cent of those that support the general concept of national pharmacare remain supportive under the modified scenario, while 20 per cent that oppose it continue to oppose the idea.

Read: Pharmacare reform should guarantee viability of workplace benefits plans: CLHIA