Ontario’s new OHIP+ plan offers free prescription drugs for everyone under 25 in Ontario.
The Ontario government began covering the costs of prescriptions for younger citizens as of Jan. 1, the biggest expansion to Medicare in a generation.
“We congratulate the government’s commitment to publicly-funded Pharma Care for families with children 24 years and younger,” Jennifer Dockery, board president of the Massey Centre, an infant and early childhood mental health organization which supports pregnant and parenting adolescents, said in a statement.
“This is a positive step forward in delivering comprehensive universal health care,” she said.
“Massey Centre knows that the vulnerable pregnant and parenting adolescent 13- to 21-year-olds that we serve will benefit from the OHIP+ program, as the expense for medications will be eliminated as one less obstacle to optimal health,” Dockery said.
More than four million children and young adults across Ontario will benefit from the new drug plan. Some of the medications covered include inhalers for asthma, insulin, oral diabetic medications and diabetic test strips, drugs to treat arthritis, epilepsy and other chronic conditions.
There is also help for smokers trying to quit, for people with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, along with pharmacy-assisted counselling available under the new plan.
“We believe in helping all families receive the medication they need, at no cost, to stay healthy and strong regardless of income,” Health Minister Eric Hoskins said in a statement. “OHIP+ is a bold step towards our commitment and vision of bringing universal drug coverage to all Ontarians.”
Young adults attending university or college outside Ontario might still be covered by OHIP+ if they remain insured by OHIP, have a valid prescription, and order medicine from a drugstore in the province.
According to a recent report by the Conference Board of Canada, the OHIP+ plan will reduce the proportion of those without drug coverage to four per cent from 13.2 per cent of Ontario’s population.
“No families in Ontario should have to choose between paying for rent or affording their child’s medication,” said Michael Coteau, minister of children and youth services.
“By covering the cost of more than 4,400 prescriptions, Ontario is allowing families to focus on what matters most — letting kids be kids, and helping young people reach their full potential,” he said.