Listen up students! These changes will affect you.

Gabrielle Klemt - 3A Geological
Posted on: July 18, 2018

The new PC government has been in power for less than a month, but changes to the province have been coming thick and fast. One major change that has come about is to OHIP+, a service many students found exciting when it was unveiled in January.

In case you somehow missed it, OHIP+ is a provincial program that makes 4,400 prescription drugs free to Ontarians under 25. As someone who got sick several times this past year, having access free antibiotics made the whole thing seem less annoying. Yes, I was deathly ill and needed to take medication every day, but hey, at least I didn’t have to pay for it… At least not directly.

As it happens, even many of my more liberal friends were against OHIP+ as an expense to the tax payer. The only people it benefits, said one friend, are the insurance companies who still get paid but don’t have to pay back. Now that drugs covered under most insurance plans are free to those who require them, insurance companies are under no obligation to cover any of it.

So, although at first I was outraged at the thought of changes to a program providing access to medical treatments that may once have been prohibited by expense, I have had to put aside initial feelings to coolly assess what the new regime is doing. Because in my opinion, the changes to OHIP+ are actually for the best. Doug Ford’s Conservatives are doing something…good?? Oh no, before I have an existential crisis let’s talk about how you might be affected.

For those previously covered by OHIP+ (children and young adults under 25), if you have private insurance you will no longer be covered. The caveat to this is that if for some reason your drug is not covered by the private insurance plan, but is one of the 4,400 drugs covered by OHIP+, the government would then cover it.

You may be left with an important question: I have the University Health and Dental Plan, will I still be covered? You’re covered by the University plan up to 80% of prescription drug costs; and that extra 20% should still get billed to OHIP+ if the system works correctly. Yes, it’s a lot of paperwork for pharmacists but hey, people with mental illness will get medication for free, women can get oral contraceptives for free. In fact, if your prescription for contraceptives is from UW Health Services it’s 100% covered by the University Plan.

Overall, I’m not upset at the changes, and I hope you aren’t either. In the end this is one budget cut which will not truly be cutting services, but improving them. OHIP+ was rolled out as a last-minute campaign move by the Liberals, and while it was a nice concept, it didn’t have the full force of planning behind it which it would have if it was less… desperate. This move improves on a good thing and I’m interested to see just where the government plans to put the savings.

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