The Fight For Full Asthma Medication Coverage
Background Information on Drug Coverage in Ontario The Ontario Health Insurance Plan covers basic health needs for Ontario residents such as medically essential diagnostic and treatment services, some physiotherapy, etc.. However, OHIP does not cover prescription drug medications, ambulatory and long-term care services. Other than OHIP, residents pay for their medical expenses either through private insurance plans, employment insurance or through other social assistance programs. This is especially important during the current economic climate according to Kathleen Connors, Chairwoman of the Canadian Health Coalition: "In this serious economic downturn, Canadians are losing their drug plans as they lose their jobs." Approximately 1.7 million Ontarians (14%) have no drug coverage. According to Health Canada (2001), the $4.44 billion spent on public health programs was primarily focused on seniors (65%) and very little on children (2%). Ontario's Universal Health Plan neglects to include the needs of children in terms of supporting medication coverage. Background Information on Asthma Asthma is one of the most common chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases in North American children (Mantzouranis, 2008). In Ontario, the annual cost per child with asthma under 15 years old was estimated to be between $1, 122 to $ 1, 386 (To Dell, Dick, Cicutto, Harris, Tassoudji, et al., 2004). These high costs can lead to poor asthma management. Without medication compliance, children are at an increased risk for increased frequency and severity of asthma attacks, which could in turn result in increased hospitalization and continuous disease progression throughout their lifespan. The Problem Families with low socioeconomic status often lack the financial, social, and educational support required to minimize health risks. The rising costs of drugs have left these families struggling to purchase medications because they are either uninsured or possess inadequate drug coverage. Statistics show that 20% of children and adults who seek emergency help due to an asthma attack have no drug coverage (Silversides, 2007). This leads families to choose money-saving but ineffective alternative methods that include little to no usage of asthma medication and not purchasing all of the prescribed medications. Our Petition It is evident that there is a growing need for a universal healthcare program that covers prescribed asthma medications for children. We are requesting for Premier Dalton McGuinty and the Honorable David Caplan, MPP (Don Valley East), Minister of Health and Long Term Care, to recognize this serious issue and enforce action by including coverage for all asthma medications, as well as assistive devices, such as spacers and peak flow meters, into the province's universal health plan. This proposed solution could benefit both the government and the public by alleviating the health costs associated with treatment for acute asthma attacks.