Free Medications For All Canadians
On average, Canadian households spend $450 a year on prescription drugs, $550 on private health plan premiums, with a combined average of over $1,000. 1 in 10 Canadians, which is around 3.5 million people, cannot afford to get their prescription drugs. This is why all Canadians should have access to free medication whenever they need it. Besides saving thousands of lives, free medication will make people healthier and happier, which in turn creates a stronger economy.
Giving free medication to all Canadians would save thousands of lives. Many people do not have the medications they need because they cannot afford it. According to a study done by the UBC, 9.6% of Canadians who received a prescription reported not taking doses for cost reasons. Free medication for Canadians could be the difference between life and death. For instance, people who need prescription drugs might skip some doses in order to save money. One study of 660 older adults with chronic diseases found that each respondent did not take their necessary medications during the previous year because they could not afford them. If medication was available for all Canadians, then people would not have to skip their prescription drugs, which would save countless lives.
As everyone would get the medications they needed, Canadians would become healthier and happier. If Canadians had access to free medications, they would be healthier. According to the WHO (World Health Organization), “millions of yearly childhood deaths from diseases could have been prevented or cured by existing medical products.” Canadians would also be happier if they had access to the prescription drugs they needed. The WHO stated that “an estimated 2 billion people have no access to essential medicines, effectively shutting them off from the benefits of advances in modern science and medicine.” Although it might seem that Canadians are not suffering due to lack of access to medications, statistics show otherwise. Free medications would make Canadians healthier and happier since they do not need to worry about the costs of prescription drugs.
Apart from making people healthier and happier, free medication could also create a stronger economy. Giving people free medication could increase people’s productivity at work. When people cannot afford their medications, they may show up at work sick, making them less productive. According to the BlueCross BlueShield Association, healthier workers are more likely to show up for work, be more productive, and have better physical and mental health. If all Canadians got the medications they needed, workers would take less time off work. A 2007 study from the Milken Institute found that when unhealthy workers show up for their job—as many people do to survive financially—the effects of their lower productivity on the nation’s economic health are huge. This shows that when workers have access to the medications they need, they work harder and more productively, leading to economic growth and in turn, a stronger economy.
Free medication should be free for all Canadians. It would save thousands of lives, make people happier and healthier, and make the economy stronger. Hopefully, in the future, Canadians will not have to skip their medications and put their lives in danger.
Should All Canadians Have Free Medications?
The Canadian government spent over 29 billion dollars on healthcare in 2020 alone. Ottawa has spent 240 billion dollars in only eight months fighting COVID-19. If the government also paid for every Canadian’s medications, the healthcare fee would become an unimaginable amount, which is why medication should not be free. Free medication for Canadians can cause other programs or services the government funds to shut down, increase patients’ risk for addictions to medications, and lead to doctor-shopping.
Free medication for all Canadians can cause the government to shut down other government-funded programs or services. If every Canadian were to have free medications, some programs or services may be affected since the government may need to take money out of those programs to pay for everyone’s medications. According to CTV News, the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services is already expected to lose 400 million dollars to COVID-19, if even more money were to be taken out, some programs will be underfunded. Many shelters in Canada are turning away women due to a lack of resources, and that can get worse if the shelters lose even more funding. As stated by the Global News, “Women who are victims of violence are being turned away from shelters across Canada due to a chronic lack of resources and funding … Four in 10 facilities reporting they are ‘almost always’ full.” Granting every Canadian free medication might be able to save some lives but can ruin many other lives.
Allowing all Canadians to have free medications can also increase patients’ risk for addiction to medications. Because the medications are free, many will not have to worry about the cost, which means that they are free to request as many drugs as they need. It may seem unlikely for doctors to prescribe enough drugs to cause an addiction, but it happens. According to Global News, a 28-year-old man from Ontario, Angst, got so addicted to prescribed drugs that he said, “It was a high that if you didn’t have it, you couldn’t start your day.” Angst, however, was not the only person to get addicted to prescribed medications. The same source claimed that from January 2016 to September 2018, more than 10,300 people died from an opioid overdose, of which at least 73%, are prescribed opioids. Permitting everyone to have free medicines can cause many more to become addicted to medications.
In addition to increasing patients’ vulnerability to addictions, free medication for all Canadians can promote doctor shopping. Doctor shopping, also known as double-doctoring, is a drug offense where one visits numerous doctors to get multiple of the same prescriptions. According to Hull and Hull LLP, a Toronto woman was charged with filling prescriptions for almost 14000 pills at nine pharmacies across the province in 2006. That woman was only one example, as many people even die while doctor-shopping. CBC News stated, “Nearly 40 percent of those dying from an overdose had been prescribed opioids by at least three different doctors in the year before they died.” If doctor shopping happens when medications are not free, it can happen more often when they are free.
There are many problems with giving every Canadian free medication. Government-funded programs can be cut, patients will have a higher chance of getting addicted to medications, and doctor shopping can happen more often. Therefore, while having free medications may seem like a sweet dream, it can actually be a terrifying nightmare.