Watching provincial pharmacare programs

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Saskatchewan, the birthplace of Canada’s public medicare system, has provincial drug benefit programs for most of its one million-plus residents.

“Affordable access to medications is an area of great importance to our government,” Saskatchewan Health Minister Dustin Duncan told that province’s news media.

According to Duncan, “Sask-atchewan residents have protection from catastrophic drug costs through a number of drug plan programs including the special support program, the senior’s drug plan and the children’s drug plan.”

The special support program assists those residents whose drug costs are high in relation to their income.

The senior’s income plan assists residents 65 years of age and over who currently receive the Guaranteed Income Supplement.

The eligible seniors can receive one free eye examination per year; 12 chiropractic services per year; home-care subsidies; loans for low cost medical devices; supplementary benefits for those living in special care homes and a reduced deductible on their prescription drugs.

The family health benefit assists low-income working families who are receiving the Saskatchewan Employment Supplement or the Saskatchewan Rental Housing Supplement.

Eligibility for these benefits is determined by the provincial ministry of social services.

Various health benefits for low-income families are offered through the family benefits program and to assist families in paying for children’s health services. Children are covered for most dental services; eye examination once per year; basic eyeglasses; emergency ambulance costs; medical supplies; 12 chiropractic services per year and prescription drugs through the Saskatchewan formulary.

Parents or legal guardians are covered for 12 chiropractic services; eye examination once every two years and drug coverage with a $100 semi-annual deductible and a 35 per cent consumer co-payment for each drug.

Saskatchewan Aids to Independent Living assists residents with long-term disabilities or illnesses to live a more independent and active lifestyle.

Eligible residents are entitled to orthopedic services, special needs equipment and home respiratory services.

And residents with specific disabling conditions may be eligible for medical equipment and supplies and prescription drug coverage under any one of the specialized programs: paraplegia program; cystic fibrosis program; end stage renal disease program; ostomy program or the aids to the blind program.

Just like in other Canadian jurisdictions, Saskatchewan health consumers who are receiving worker's compensation, Health Canada’s First Nations and Inuit extended health benefits, members of the RCMP, members of the Canadian Armed Forces, Veteran's Affairs and Corrections Canada are excluded from Saskatchewan’s provincial government drug plans.

Saskatchewan may be more

generous in providing drug coverage to their residents compared

to some other provinces. But Saskatchewan’s drug plans do have many similarities to those pharmacare/drug benefit programs in other provinces and territories, including Newfoundland and Labrador’s plan.


Edward Sawdon writes from St. John’s.

Organizations: Saskatchewan Rental Housing Supplement, Health Canada, First Nations RCMP Canadian Armed Forces Corrections Canada

Geographic location: Saskatchewan, Newfoundland and Labrador

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