Ontario has become the first province to begin providing prescription medications for free to children and youth under the age of 25.
The province launched its OHIP+: Children and Youth Pharmacare program on Jan. 1. The new program offers the province’s 4 million children and youth free access to more than 4,400 approved medications.
Children and youth will need only a valid prescription and a health card to access medication; no deductible or co-payment will be required.
The program will cover all prescription medications currently listed on the Ontario Drug Benefit Formulary. Additional medications eligible for funding through the Exceptional Access Program will also be covered.
Like many provinces, Ontario already offers drug coverage to seniors, as well as those with exceptionally high drug costs, though those programs include deductibles.
The Ontario government has said that the aim of pharmacare-for-children program is to allow families to access medications without having to worry about affordability.
Premier Kathleen Wynne said Tuesday that while she’s proud of the province’s new program, her government hopes to expand it further.
“Although we are thrilled that OHIP+ is going to cover prescription medications for young people between birth and their 25th birthday, we recognize that there’s more that needs to be done. The whole population needs to have access to that kind of support.
“Our hopes that the federal government will join us in this conversation in 2018.”