This story appeared in the final report of the Advisory Council on the Implementation of Pharmacare, A Prescription for Canada: Achieving Pharmacare for All
I live in small-town rural Canada, 35km from the nearest hospital. Specialist care is 600km away. Three years ago, after getting increasingly sick and a year’s worth of ER visits, I was finally diagnosed.
The accompanying vomiting caused by my condition was so intense that I suffered a heart attack. Upon discharge, I was prescribed nine medications costing $6,000 per year. After years of scrimping, I own a very modest home, but I only make about $17,000 a year. So these drugs would be 1/3 of my income.
My job does not provide benefits and I simply can’t afford these medications. So, I was in a bind, and approached social services.
Their response left me indignant. Since I own my modest house, they would not be able to help me—UNLESS—I was willing to sign my house over to the province!
Finally, I applied for the public pharmacare program, but my deductible is $1,700, which is still 10 per cent of my income, before I can get benefits. I’m only able to get my meds because my drugstore is willing to give me my drugs on credit.
I can’t afford to eat properly, I keep the house temperature at 10°C in winter, forcing me to wear long johns and sweaters. But I had to give up something to afford my prescriptions, so I no longer have house insurance, as I need my vehicle to get to work.
It’s pretty clear to me that the system is broken and unfair. I live very modestly. I shouldn't be forced to give up my home to get help with an illness.