Saving money with a National Public Drug Plan

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SAVINGS ON PRESCRIPTION DRUGS

With a national public drug plan to cover everyone, Canada could negotiate lower prices for prescription drugs. We could bargain with the drug companies from a strong position, because at stake would be selling drugs to the whole population. We paid $30 billion for prescription drugs in 2017. With the negotiating power of a single public drug plan, we’d save $5 BILLION a year.

SAVINGS FOR EMPLOYERS

Many employers provide drug plans for their workers, but prescription drug prices are rising and benefits are being cut back. With a national public plan covering everyone, employers would save on average $750 a year for each worker. That’s a total of $16.6 BILLION a year that could be used to invest in business and provide better pay and benefits for workers.

SAVINGS FOR CANADIANS 

Many Canadians now have to pay for all or part of their prescription drugs out of their own pockets. With a national public drug plan covering these costs, Canadian households would save on average $350 a year. Overall, Canadians would save $6.4 BILLION a year, money we could use to buy other goods and services.

SAVINGS ON DOCTORS AND HOSPITALS

Being unable to afford your prescription drugs has serious consequences. One quarter of those who can’t afford their drugs have to visit a doctor or an emergency room or stay in hospital as a result. For just three conditions (diabetes, heart disease and chronic respiratory problems), removing cost barriers to prescription drugs would result in 220,000 fewer emergency room visits and 90,000 fewer hospital stays every year. That would save $1.2 BILLION a year for these three diseases alone.

SAVINGS LIKE IN OTHER COUNTRIES

Out of 34 developed countries, Canada pays more for prescription drugs than all but two of them. Other countries pay less because their national drug plans are able to bargain lower prices with the drug companies. They can do this because they have the power to decide which drug companies will provide prescription drugs to the whole population. Canada would also negotiate lower prices by having one public plan that provides drugs for everyone.

WE CAN’T AFFORD THE CURRENT PATCHWORK COVERAGE

Canadians are suffering because we have 110,000 public and private drug plans. As a result, we can’t effectively negotiate reduced drug prices, so the costs just continue to rise. This expensive patchwork coverage also fails to provide the drugs we need. A remarkable 59% of those who can’t afford their prescription drugs are actually covered by private or public drug plans. But the plans are inadequate and people can’t afford their share of the cost. Adding more patches to try to “fill the gaps” will neither control the rapid increase in the cost of prescription drugs nor provide adequate drug coverage.

TO SAVE MONEY AND BENEFIT CANADIANS WE NEED A NATIONAL PUBLIC DRUG PLAN

*All figures are from the Government of Canada report “A Prescription for Canada: Achieving Pharmacare for All”, June 2019.

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