With Doug Ford's government now in power, Health Minister Christine Elliott has announced that people under 25 years old with private insurance will no longer be eligible for free prescriptions under OHIP+, which is being implemented as a "cost-effective" change to the province's health system to save money.
Previously OHIP+ offered coverage to all people who were under the age threshold, no matter whether they had private insurance or not. Now the program will focus on residents "who do not have existing prescription benefits," the province announced.
The youth pharmacare program was enacted by the previous Liberal government on January 1 to provide youth with free access to more than 4,400 drugs — ranging from asthma inhalers, drugs for depression and anxiety, antibiotics, insulin and more. The program will remain as-is for eligible persons who do not have other coverage.
Within the first six months of the service being available, more than 950,000 prescriptions had been filled for free, requiring only a valid Ontario health card number and prescription to receive.
"Those who are covered by private plans would bill those plans first, with the government covering all remaining eligible costs of prescriptions," Elliott said. Private insurance companies can cover more drugs than those offered under OHIP+.
This announcement came only a day after Premier Doug Ford and his 21-member cabinet were sworn into office, marking the province's first PC government in 15 years.