Do Drug Plans Matter? Effects of Drug Plan Eligibility on Drug Use Among the Elderly, Social Assistance Recipients and the General Population
The 1984 Canada Health Act does not require that the provinces subsidize prescription drugs. Many provinces do, however, provide categorical coverage to the elderly, social assistance recipients and others, although the generosity of coverage is highly variable. A system of parallel private insurance covers the non-elderly ineligible for social assistance. In this study, we assessed the socio-economic, health and demographic determinants of private drug insurance. We also assessed the effect of inter- provincial variations in drug insurance coverage for the elderly and low income on variations in drug insurance coverage for the elderly and low income on their drug use. In addition, using instrumental variables methods, we considered the effect of prescription drug insurance coverage status on drug use in the non-elderly population ineligible for social assistance. Consistent with the previous literature, we find that for most seniors and non-indigent, drug coverage has only minor effects on drug use. The drug use of social assistance recipients was, however, sensitive to even relatively modest copayments of $0-$6.
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