The National Pharmacare movement like many things is built from several sources and not a single base. The issues at hand are that first of all we have a relatively inefficient buying system for drugs. We have patent periods before lower cost equivalents, generics, if you will, can be produced. There’s also the issue of affordability for lower income or unemployed individuals or families. One should also consider the high inflation level that is impacting even those with employee benefits and drug coverage.
Healthcare is also traditionally a source of Canadian pride. There’s almost a sense of emotion and national identity tied to it. With anything as visible in the public landscape that has issues, it has also become highly politicized. The difficulty is always in finding a balance between helping those in need, driving larger profits for companies and making things affordable for employers to be able to continue to offer benefits.
Providing a one payer system through the government will jeopardize employer benefit plans and other benefits they provide. Paying for drugs for just those without benefits will just encourage employers to cancel benefits as firms rationalize why they would pay for something they may not need to. In addition, as the linked article suggests the feds haven’t really put a lot of thought into the fact that many provinces already have income proportionate plans in place.
The reality is a National Pharmacare single-payer system will cost just under $ 1000 per Canadian to put in place. Given the history of this government to put that burden onto the middle class and small businesses or into government debt load (really the same thing) that doesn’t bode well. Given they dropped the ball on the USMCA deal and increased drug costs to Canadians on patent flexibility we are facing an uphill battle.