The ongoing efforts to improve the affordability and accessibility of take-home cancer treatments reached a significant milestone this week: The Nova Scotia government launched a new fund to help patients reduce out-of-pocket costs associated with take-home cancer treatments.
This is big news! Historically, Nova Scotians faced the highest out-of-pocket costs in Canada for take-home cancer treatments. They also have one of the lowest rates of private insurance coverage. This new program – a commitment of $846,000 in its first year, and $2 million in each of the next two years – will help reduce the financial hardship faced by patients and their families.
The CanCertainty Coalition, along with oncologists, patients, caregivers and concerned citizens across Nova Scotia have been working tirelessly to persuade decision makers to change its out-of-date cancer system. And while this new fund won’t address all the issues faced by patients – like delays in starting treatment or safety concerns – it is a tremendous step in the right direction.
The new fund means patients will pay no more than four percent of their family's net income for medications, providing a measure of financial certainty at a time when patients need to focus on their health. Compared to the thousands and thousands of dollars of drug expenses some patients had to deal with, this is a success.
We will continue our work in Nova Scotia, as well as in Ontario and the rest of the Atlantic provinces, until we have a system that eliminates the financial and administrative burdens of accessing cancer treatment, improves safety and puts patients first. The Western provinces and Northern territories have done it – and so can the rest of Canada.
For more details about the new fund, see the announcement here.
Robert Bick is a health policy consultant specializing in drug access and reimbursement policy in Canada. He serves on the Board of Directors of Kidney Cancer Canada and is a co-Lead of the CanCertainty Coalition.