GreenShield Canada launches program to deliver free medicines

Program aims to address accessibility gap

GreenShield Canada launches program to deliver free medicines

GreenShield Canada (GSC) has launched a new program to give low-income Canadians without drug coverage access to essential medications.

According to the United Nations, access to medicines is now a fundamental element of the right to health. With this, states have been obliged to put in place legislation and policies that will strengthen their national health systems and improve people’s access to medicines.

In Canada, around one million people do not have access to essential medicines.

“Many Canadians are without access to essential medicines due to a lack of affordability, with those from marginalized and/or racialized groups struggling the most,” said Zahid Salman, president and CEO at GreenShield.

“The GreenShield Cares Essential Medicines program addresses this gap."

In a press release, GreenShield said it partnered with the Niagara Falls Community Health Centre and the Windsor Essex Community Health Centre as it piloted the program in Ontario, noting other locations are to follow. The not-for-profit health benefits provider noted the Health Depot, its digital pharmacy, will dispense and deliver the essential medicines at no cost.

Toronto Star reported GreenShield also seeks to eventually secure government funding to provide a solution.

“We think this is a very viable blueprint the government can use when thinking about how to adopt pharmacare,” Salman said.

With the program in place, GreenShield will serve as payer-provider. As a payer, it will offer insurance, administer benefits, and pay claims, and at the same time, as a provider, it will deliver programs, including telemedicine, and digital and clinical pharmacy services.

Salman believed their model is a better alternative to the system proposed by the NDP. “The single-payer model would be fairly disruptive … because there’s 27 million Canadians who already have drug coverage under an employer-sponsored plan,” he said.

To apply for the pilot program, individuals must be employed and a resident in Ontario with valid OHP. They also must be between 25 to 64, with an income below Statistics Canada’s low-income measure. They must be prescribed medications for a medical condition and should not be enrolled in any private or public drug program except for the Trillium Drug Program.