For many months, Manulife has been working with the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association (CLHIA) and organizations like the Business Council of Canada and the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, as well as meeting with federal and provincial governments, to represent your interests in the discussion about National Pharmacare. Such a program could introduce universal access to some prescription medications for Canadians, paid for by public funds. Like the federal government, we agree all Canadians deserve access to a comprehensive and affordable drug plan. We’re concerned especially about the estimated 10% of Canadians who either don’t have a prescription drug plan or have inadequate coverage to meet their needs1.

Manulife supports government goals

In a recent submission to the Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare, Manulife expressed its support for the government’s goal to improve the overall health, well-being, and quality of life for all Canadians. At the same time, we believe any national pharmacare solution needs to be careful not to erode the value that group benefits plans bring to the Canadian economy.

Workplace benefit programs contribute to the overall health and wellness of Canadians. Employers and union groups provide these plans because workers value the variety of services covered by the plans. They enjoy the ease with which they can interact with their plans to obtain information or reimbursement for expenses. It’s important to point out that group benefits plans go far beyond simply paying for prescriptions: they bring together a variety of services and features that can support and help protect the overall health and well-being of the individual.

A minimum standard

Manulife believes every Canadian should have drug coverage that equals or exceeds an agreed upon standard. We note that almost all Canadians covered by workplace drugs plans, and many of those who access drugs through a public plan, already have coverage that would exceed any national standard that is likely to be established. Therefore, we believe the government can achieve its goal of universal coverage by improving the current system, giving employers incentives to offer benefit plans that include drug coverage, and establishing a base level of coverage that all private and public plans must provide.

In the coming months, Manulife will continue to work with the government on this important issue. If you have any thoughts or concerns that you would like to share, please speak to your Manulife representative.

Further reading : CLHIA submission to Advisory Council on National Pharmacare

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1 Source: Federal Cost of a National Pharmacare Program; Office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer, Canada; September 28, 2017