Top News

A part of health care that makes perfect sense

['Perspectives with Shirley Hallee']
['Perspectives with Shirley Hallee']

Perspectives with Shirley Hallee

It is something that is long overdue. A report by the Advisory Council on the Implementation of Pharmacare was delivered to the public on June 12 that by 2022 all Canadians will have access to basic medications as part of our universal health care system, and by January of 2027 an all inclusive list of prescription drugs would be accessible.

I am not sure why it took so long for government to come to the realization that providing medications to all people is not only the humane thing to do...it is also likely to save the government a great deal of money. This is an issue that I have written about at least twice in the 16 years I have been writing this column. I personally deal with a chronic health condition, and I am one of the fortunate people who has always had health insurance. I pay only a small percentage of the real cost of my medications.

Even though I have been dealing with Crohns Disease since my youth, and there were hospitalizations in my young years...I have not been hospitalized since moving to Canada over 30 years ago. Having access to effective medications has kept me healthy and active. I have friends who have not been as fortunate. One friend was self-employed, and without insurance. Her prescribed medications were pricey, and she would sometimes limit her dosage or simply not take the medicine. My friend would become ill, was hospitalized, received extreme medicines, recovered...and then would be sent home with a couple of weeks worth of medicine. She would again become ill after a period of time and would then be admitted to the hospital. This situation repeated itself until a time came when she had to have an extreme surgical procedure.

Seeing what this friend was going through prompted the writing of a couple of columns back in 2005 and 2006. I was also hearing about people who were diabetic and had trouble affording insulin. NDP MP Don Davies indicated that the cost of treating one diabetic patient in intensive care would be more than providing insulin for a lifetime. Over the past few years there have been reports of those who deal with cancer being able to get necessary medications in the hospital, but if they don't receive the treatment in the hospital they pay out of pocket.

Those with chronic heart conditions, respiratory issues, or any one of many chronic conditions will have many visits to emergency rooms, and/or hospitalizations. Each of those visits cost the health care system big bucks. Those very same conditions take a toll on general health and well-being of countless numbers of people. Many individuals become disabled, and many pass away before their time.

To my way of thinking, it would seem more likely that prescription costs with a general Pharmacare program, which would be paid by the government, might allow opportunity for better price controls. At this point in time Canadians have the second highest drug costs in the industrialized world...just a bit under the costs of drugs in the United States. Pharmaceutical companies are seeing huge profits and might need to be reined in a bit.

I live with a fairly serious condition. However, my health is well managed through good care and regular check-ups. I have also had the medications necessary to keep me in remission...or near remission for most of my lifetime. I have been able to reach an age where I can say with a bit of pride, and even a bit of awe...I have able to live long enough to become a feisty older lady. It is my intention to become a feisty really old lady.

Shirley Hallee is a freelance writer living in Amherst. Her column appears weekly in the Amherst News.

Recent Stories