A new option to allow eligible Manitobans to pay their pharmacare deductible in monthly instalments is now in effect, Health Minister Theresa Oswald announced today.
“Many Manitobans need prescription drugs to manage an illness and the costs for many of these drugs continue to rise,” said Oswald. “This new program will allow people with high drug bills to pay their pharmacare deductible in monthly instalments, helping reduce financial hardships caused by high lump-sum drug costs.”
“The ability to pay the pharmacare deductible over several months will help many people with multiple sclerosis who face high drug costs,” said Norm Velnes, president of the Manitoba Division of the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada. “This is a creative solution and we congratulate Manitoba Health for their hard work in making this program a reality.”
To be eligible for the Manitoba deductible instalment payment program, an individual must:
· be enrolled with the Manitoba Pharmacare Program;
· have eligible Manitoba pharmacare drug costs over a 30-day period that are equal to or above 25 per cent of their monthly income;
· have reached or gone above their benefit limit for drug coverage they receive through another drug plan; and
· pre-authorize withdrawals from their bank account by Manitoba Hydro for the cost of the deductible instalment and their hydro bill.
It is estimated that as many as 19,000 Manitoba Pharmacare Program beneficiaries will be eligible to participate in the monthly deductible instalment program.
“Many Manitobans, including seniors, are finding that rising drug costs are having serious effects on their finances and this program will be very helpful,” said Healthy Living Minister Kerri Irvin-Ross, minister responsible for seniors.
“Access to prescription drugs is an important part of maintaining and improving health, and pharmacists want their patients to be able to get the help they need,” said Nancy Remillard, president of the Manitoba Society of Pharmacists.
Manitobans will still have the option of paying their full deductible through their pharmacy. People eligible for the new program will only be able to pay the monthly instalments on their deductible through pre-authorized payments on their Manitoba Hydro bill.
“We are happy to partner with Manitoba Health and use our billing system to assist the province in reaching out to Manitobans and make this important program possible,” said Bob Brennan, president and CEO of Manitoba Hydro.
The Manitoba Pharmacare Program covers 100 per cent of drug costs once the income-based deductible is reached. Manitoba and the Yukon are the only two provinces or territories with a deductible structure as the sole cost-sharing requirement. All other jurisdictions mandate co‑payments in conjunction with deductibles and/or premiums.
“This innovative instalment program builds on the Manitoba Pharmacare Program, which offers the most comprehensive coverage of any province in Canada,” said Oswald. “But as drug costs continue to rise, it is imperative that all provinces and the federal government continue to work together to develop a national catastrophic drug plan.”
Manitobans can begin applying for this new program immediately by visiting their local pharmacy or by calling 945-1733 (in Winnipeg) or 1-888-519-3492 toll free.