Province to Offer Free Prescription Drugs for Youth

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There's one major highlight from the Ontario budget that's been generating a buzz for families and millennials across Ontario.

Last week, we reported that Finance Minister Charles Sousa released Ontario’s first balanced budget since the global recession, the 2017 Ontario Budget: A Stronger, Healthier Ontario.

The budget incorporates OHIP+: Children and Youth Pharmacare, a new drug benefit program that fully covers the cost of prescription medications for everyone under the age of 25, regardless of family income.

That's right, families and millennials rejoice - that's one less expense to worry about.

The first program of its kind in Canada, the new pharmacare program will ensure that young adults have access to universal drug coverage.

The Liberal program intends to provide coverage for up to 4,400 drugs, including antibiotics, asthma inhalers, diabetes medication and attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder medication. It also includes oral cancer medication; hospital-based medication is already free in Ontario.

This program is scheduled to roll out starting January 1, 2018, should the Liberals win the provincial election.

The Ontario NDP also hopes to bring in a province-wide pharmacare program in the case that they win the election.

The NDP program is slightly different from the Liberal program, in that they promise a "universal" plan that covers everyone, while the Liberals have capped off the eligibility to anyone under 25 regardless of family income or whether they already have private insurance.

The costing is about the same between the two parties’ proposals. With that in mind, of course, the money will come from Mississauga and Ontario residents through provincial taxes. The Liberal plan has a price tag of $465 million, while the NDP plans to spend $10 million more. However, the NDP plan only covers 125 drugs.

Regardless, the province is offering "free" prescription drugs to many millennials, which will hopefully relieve some of Ontario's youth of at least one expense.

Perhaps the next step to better healthcare should incorporate the gap of individuals aged 25-65.

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