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Healthc Pap. 2004;4(3):10-20.

Post-Romanow pharmacare: last-dollar first...first-dollar lost?

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Health Care and Epidemiology, Centre for Health Services and Policy Research, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.


Canada's public-private mix in coverage for pharmaceuticals has long created variation across provinces in access to needed treatments and has contributed to persistent cost growth in both the private and public sectors. Among the recommendations of the 2002 Romanow Commission was a proposed national standard for "last-dollar" pharmacare that would cover any household's drug costs beyond a high annual deductible. Such a program contrasts with the "first-dollar" pharmacare programs currently available for vulnerable populations (e.g., seniors and social assistance recipients) in most provinces. While last-dollar coverage may be a valuable set toward broadening public pharmacare in Canada, there is a risk that provincial governments may interpret the coverage of catastrophic costs as the new pharmacare ideal and therefore reduce or eliminate existing programs that currently offer first-dollar benefits.

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