As announced last month in Ontario’s 2017 budget, prescription drugs will become free for persons under the age of 24, regardless of family income. Ontario’s proposed plan, OHIP+: Children and Youth Pharmacare Program, is to begin January 1, 2018.
The plan will provide better access to healthcare for four million young professionals and students who may not have comprehensive drug coverage plans. Over 4,400 drugs will be covered under OHIP+ in the $465 million healthcare investment Ontario will make.
The medications that will be covered under this new plan include those that are listed in the Ontario Drug Benefit Formulary or Comparative Drug Index, as well as those funded by the Exceptional Access Program. Medications for the treatment of mental illness, asthma inhalers, oral contraceptives, and antibiotics will be made available at no cost.
This 2017 Ontario Budget also includes measures and investments in other aspects of the healthcare industry. This includes funding towards shorter wait times for medical care and more mental health and addiction services. Over the next three years, Ontario is expected to spend approximately $7 billion on these other initiatives.
Premier Kathleen Wynne visited the University of Waterloo earlier in May to discuss how OHIP+ will affect students in the near future. Wynne noted that “young people who are trying to get a strong start in life need [our] support,” and how “access to free prescription medication will make life more affordable for them when they need it most.”