The Trillium Drug Program: Ontario’s best kept secret, Part 2

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Small businesses in Ontario can keep their drugs costs down by getting their employees to participate in the Trillium Drug Program. Part 1 covered how the program saves companies money. Now here's how your clients' and their employees can participate.

David Jensen, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, explains how it works. Before a person receives coverage for Ontario Drug Benefit program benefits as a TDP client, their household must pay a set amount out-of-pocket for eligible prescription purchases, otherwise known as the deductible.

The annual deductible amount, paid in four quarterly instalments, is approximately 4% of the previous taxation year's net income.

"It should be stressed though that an employer, or any third party acting on behalf of the household, cannot pay the deductible on behalf of the employee," said Jensen.

The quarter in which the deductible is paid, the household begins to receive drug benefits and is asked to pay a co-payment of up to $2 per ODB-eligible prescription each time they purchase an eligible drug product. Any unpaid deductible in a quarter will be added to the next quarter's deductible.

Catherine Swift, president and chief executive officer, CFIB, says the TDP as a low-cost alternative is an effective plan for drugs that aren't covered under the normal healthcare coverage.

"Trillium has done a good job in covering the gaps in the company plan or personal coverage," said Swift. "So the TDP has been a good backstop for businesses in general, [especially for] small firms that don't tend to have the same types of drug plans that a lot of large companies do."

What concerns Swift, though, is the widespread lack of awareness about this plan's availability among business people, especially those who own small- and medium-sized enterprises.

"Small business are less likely than big corporations to have [comprehensive drug plans] and the awareness among small business about drug programs like the TDP is not super big," she said. "In general, health program costs are escalating, in part because of the drug issue, but also because the government in general are offloading costs by getting rid of certain coverage and are dumping them on somebody else."

The ODB program, of which the Trillium Drug Program is a part, provides support to nearly three million Ontario citizens with drug benefit coverage.

Trillium application kits are available at local pharmacies, or can be obtained by calling 1-800-575-5386. More information is available online and the application form and application guide are available here.

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