"My deductible is only 'affordable' because of my living situation and lower income status."
I'm Kerri, a twenty-something, self-employed Manitoban with chronic disease. I take common medications for asthma and ADHD, which does not mean inexpensive. I have been uninsured since graduating university in 2014 and losing coverage through my dad's group plan he had through his employer.
I have benefitted from the Manitoba Pharmacare program to cover the majority of my medication expenses, minus a deductible which fortunately remains affordable as I live with my parents and have few other expenses. However, my deductible is only 'affordable' because of my living situation and lower income status. As I gain more clients and projects as a freelance writer – as unstable a profession as any – my income fluctuates greatly from month to month.
Near the end of each year, I sit down with a spreadsheet and calculate whether or not it is cheaper for me to pay out-of-pocket for my pharmacare deductible, extra medical expenses, dental care, and travel insurance, or if it is time to opt into an insurance plan that might actually accept someone like me, with multiple "pre-existing conditions."
I am young, and though I may have chronic disease, affordable Pharmacare coverage will keep me healthy. However, as I cycle into different phases of my life, Pharmacare deductibles may move out of my financial reach – a reality I stare down regularly. The four asthma medications I take keep me relatively healthy, and being diagnosed with severe ADHD in my early twenties, ADHD medication has been positively life-altering for me. My ADHD medication is not fully covered by Pharmacare, but with assistance from other programs I am able to cover the full cost of the name brand medication as my doctor has prescribed (as the generic has been shown by the FDA to NOT be equivalent to Concerta!). This adaptation allows me to feel and function at my best, both in traditional employment scenarios as well as in self-employment. Without Manitoba Pharmacare, my prescriptions would have cost 24% of my income – nearly a quarter of an income which a totally "healthy" person would not have to pay!
Drug coverage through the Manitoba Pharmacare program has been straight forward and positive for me, but the changing levels of my deductible as my income increases does cause me anxiety about the financial burden of managing my asthma and ADHD in a possible future without insurance.