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Do Drug Plans Matter? Effects of Drug Plan Eligibility on Drug Use Among the Elderly, Social Assistance Recipients, and the General Population (NA227)

Recipient: Centre for the Evaluation of Medicines, St. Joseph’s Hospital, Hamilton

Contribution: $122,372.00

This study illuminated the debate over a national pharmacare program by using data from two population health surveys in 10 provinces to predict the influence a national pharmacare program would have on the use of prescription drugs, physician services, and the health status of Canadians. The project identified variations in the extent of prescription drug coverage among the general population and differences in how provinces share costs with seniors and social assistance recipients. The project then constructed a range of indicator variables and estimate models of prescription drug use for tracking the impact of various types of drug insurance plans along with several socio-economic, demographic, and health variables. It concludes that variations in the extent of drug coverage do not appear to affect drug-use patterns among people of average socio-economic and health status, which suggests that pharmacare would not encourage most Canadians to use substantially more drugs or professional resources. On the other hand, shifting costs from consumer to government could encourage greater medication use by low-income and sick people for whom prices are a barrier to care, which could in turn lead to improved health status.

Fact Sheet


This project was supported by the Health Transition Fund, which was created in 1997 to provide support for evidence-based decision-making in health care reform by supporting pilot and evaluation projects which test innovative approaches to health care delivery. The views expressed herein do no necessarily represent the official policy of federal, provincial, or territorial governments.


Last Modified: 2005-08-29