Is Pharmacare a Women's Issue?

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A quick diagnosis says 'yes.'

  • A majority of part-time workers and low-wage earners are women and these workers rarely are included in employer plans.

  • The public drug plans introduced by most provinces in the 1970s were intended to protect the most vulnerable-the poor and the elderly.

  • Women make up a majority of those on welfare-and a majority of seniors-two groups covered under publicly supported pharmacare plans.

  • People living on low incomes tend to have more health problems and most people on limited incomes are women.

  • Women are prescribed drugs more often than men.

  • Since a public plan would be financed through tax revenues, those on lower incomes wouldn't be haying as much for drugs. A single payer universal pharmacare plan would be a redistributive plan, much like medicare, where those who are wealthier put in more tax money compared to those who have lower taxable incomes.

  • A universal pharmacare program would likely include contraceptives which could reduce both unplanned pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

What are some possible side effects?

  • Women are over-prescribed many drugs, such as anti-depressants, which can be medically unnecessary, or addictive. We need access to appropriate and essential drugs and alternative remedies such as vitamins, homeopathy drugs and natural remedies such as herbs.
  • If only prescription drugs were included under pharmacare, there would be a disincentive to use what are often healthier alternatives.

  • What may be needed is an approach to health remedies that combines the best of both worlds-publicly paid for drugs, backed up with a better system of consumer involvement in drug approval and a wider scope on defining what remedies would be included in our health care system.