Ontario Budget 2017: Free prescription drugs for children and youth

The Ontario Liberal government released their 2017 budget yesterday on April 27, 2017. Entitled “A Stronger, Healthier Ontario,” the budget features “OHIP+” which will provide free pharmacare for anyone 24 years of age and under.

Beginning on January 1, 2018, OHIP will include coverage for all Ontarians 24 years of age and under for prescription medication eligible under the Ontario Drug Benefit (ODB) formulary. The ODB currently covers 4,400 prescription drugs for approximately 3.9 million Ontarians, including 3 million seniors and 900,000 people on social assistance. OHIP+ will not include deductibles or co-payments, regardless of family income.

Hand hold medicine pills in the pharmacy


The effect of OHIP+ on plan sponsors of private benefit plans

How or when savings may be passed on to the plan sponsors of benefit plans is yet to be determined. For most employers, the affected age group represents a marginal portion of total drug spend, and private plans will still be liable for non-ODB formulary drugs.

As the launch date of OHIP+ approaches, we expect further direction and information to be released by insurance carriers. We foresee some cost relief for plan sponsors as a result of OHIP+, but it is not anticipated to have a major impact on overall drug plan spend. 

The consulting team at Cowan Insurance Group will continue to engage with our insurance carrier partners to remain informed and to advocate on behalf of our clients.

For additional details on the 2017 Ontario Budget see:

CBC News: Ontario budget 2017: Free prescription drugs for anyone under 25, a first of its kind

Benefits Canada: Ontario pharmacare program provides some relief to plan sponsors

National Post: Ontario budget makes province first in Canada to offer free prescription drugs to everyone under 25