Pharmacy (Photo)

University Pharmacy in the basement of the UCC, March 29, 2019.

Dr. Laurence Batmazian is one of the family physicians at Student Health Services.

Note: This article represents my personal opinion and should not be interpreted in any way to represent the views of Western University.

Background

Until Monday, April 1, 2019, everyone in Ontario who has OHIP coverage and is younger than 25 is covered by OHIP+ Children and Youth Pharmacare. This means that, for the vast majority of undergraduate students, most prescription medications (including many antibiotics, anti-depressants, birth control pills, IUDs and chronic disease medications) are covered for free.

The Problem

When Kathleen Wynne's Ontario government implemented this program in January 2018, they came under criticism that the real winner was insurance companies. This is because most undergraduate students were already covered under private drug insurance — either through the university or through their parents. When OHIP+ was initiated, it transferred the cost of medications from private drug insurance companies to the public system, with little change to the average student’s bottom-line.

What’s changing?

Premier Doug Ford's government has decided that, with few exceptions, anyone who currently has private drug insurance will no longer be eligible for OHIP+. For the majority of Western’s undergraduate students, this means that your OHIP+ coverage will end and your prescriptions will be paid for by the USC’s health insurance plan.

This can affect you in two ways. First — your medications will almost certainly cost more. You will now be subject to the USC health insurance's 20 per cent co-payment for your medications and annual drug maximum of $3,000/ year. Second — if there is a medication that the USC health insurance does not cover, or you reach your annual maximum, you are out of luck. If you have private drug coverage, you are not eligible for OHIP+, period.

What to do?

If you have an outstanding refill at the pharmacy, you may want to fill it before April 1. Also, for certain medications, your physician can request the pharmacy to dispense a larger supply of 90 days. If you are planning on travel within or outside of the province, the pharmacy might also be able to give you a “bridging prescription” which will enable a one-time larger dispense of your medication.

— Dr. Laurence Batmazian

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