Ontario's wealthier seniors will pick up more of the tab for prescription drugs under changes proposed in the provincial budget.
The Liberals want to change the Ontario Drug Benefit program so that about 5 per cent of seniors – those with the highest incomes – pay more.
Under the plan, about 75,000 seniors will pay an average of $665 a year more toward their prescription drugs covered under the plan.
The changes will take effect in August, 2014, although seniors living in long-term care homes or receiving publicly funded home care will not be affected by the changes.
Under the new plan, single seniors with an income greater than $100,000 will pay a deductible of $100 plus 3 per cent of their income.
For couples with an income above $160,000, the deductible will be $200 per couple plus 3 per cent of the family income.
Those seniors will continue to pay a co-payment of $6.11 per prescription after the deductible amount.
The changes will not increase drug costs for seniors with net incomes below the $100,000 or $160,000 thresholds who already get drug benefits.
“The fairness of the program will be improved by asking the highest-income seniors to pay more of their own prescription drug costs, while ensuring that these costs do not impose an unreasonable burden,” the budget, released Tuesday, reads.
“Incomes will be checked each year, to ensure that seniors are receiving the correct level of benefits.”
Finance Minister Dwight Duncan said he wasn't expecting any backlash from the change.
“I've heard repeatedly from people around the province, particularly people of better means, that in this era, we don't really need to be paying the full drug cost for people who are very wealthy,” he said.
As previously suggested, there will no pay increases for the province's doctors offered in the current round of negotiations, with the budget papers noting physicians have been getting salary hikes between 9 per cent and 11 per cent in recent years.
The Liberals plan to reduce the rate of growth to spending on health care to 2.1 per cent annually over the next three years, shifting more resources to home care and adopting a patient-centred funding model for hospitals.
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