Drugs are about to get a lot cheaper for people under 25.
The Liberal government of Ontario introduced the plan in their most recent budget to introduce universal pharmacare for anyone under 25 starting January 1, 2018. Anyone with an OHIP card will have access to free prescription medication as long as it is prescribed by a physician. The plan has no upfront costs and applies to all, regardless of family income or whether they are already covered under a private insurance plan.
This plan is especially helpful for university students, many of whom are just becoming more financially independent. School is a huge expense already, and with rising tuition rates, costs such as prescription medications can be a significant burden on students.
While prescription medication isn’t usually a large expense for many university or college students, it’s an unexpected cost that could add unnecessary pressure to what can be an already strained budget. Now regardless of income, people under 25 can recover from a disease or have access to birth control.
Many students aren’t financially independent and may have to ask their parents for money to help cover expenses. By creating this program, it increases the independence with which young people can seek medical help.
The new plan allows for students to access over 4,400 prescription drugs. This includes prescription contraceptives such as birth control pills and IUDs, which are purchased widely by female students. It also allows for students to access free treatment for strep throat, STIs or the common flu, all while keeping prescriptions private.
Albeit a great change, Ontario is the first province to roll this out. With the other nine provinces and territories having no concrete plan in place, it will be interesting to see how long it takes to become a nation-wide change.
This plan is a great step towards making sure Ontario students can live free of the financial stress of healthcare and helps to ease the sometimes overwhelming burden of school.
Brigid is one of The Journal’s Features Editors. She’s a third-year Political Studies major.
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