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Province expands free prescription medication

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Prescription medications now are free for everyone under the age of 25 in Ontario.

As of Jan. 1, the province has made the biggest expansion to medicare in Ontario in a generation, providing drug coverage to more than four million children and youth across the province.

The launch of “OHIP+: Children and Youth Pharmacare” is a national milestone as Ontario becomes the first province to provide prescription drug coverage to children and youth.

Premier Kathleen Wynne was in downtown Toronto to celebrate this national milestone with some of the young people and parents who now have access to more than 4,400 medicines, completely free of charge.

Some of the now publicly-funded prescriptions include depression and anxiety medications, insulin and diabetic test strips, antibiotics, asthma inhalers, and birth control pills.

This expansion of medicare marks a turning point for Ontario families, who now have access to life-saving drugs without having to worry about affordability.

Coverage will be automatic for children and youth with an OHIP card and a valid prescription.

There will be no upfront costs, no co-pays, and no strings attached.

Ontario is the first province to provide prescription medication coverage at no cost for all children and youth under 25 who are OHIP-insured.

An estimated 1.2 million people in Ontario without drug coverage will benefit from “OHIP+.”

This is according to a recent report by the Conference Board of Canada, which estimates a drop from 13.2 percent to four percent in the number of people not currently eligible for drug coverage under a public or private insurance plan in Ontario.

“OHIP+” covers prescription medications listed on the Ontario Drug Benefit Formulary, and additional medications eligible for funding through the Exceptional Access Program and prescribed by a doctor or nurse practitioner.

Ontario's public drug programs already help to pay for needed prescription medications for seniors, people with high drug costs, and other vulnerable populations.

It marks one of the many ways the Ontario government is leading a national discussion on the future shape of pharmacare in Canada.

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