Prescription medications just became free for everyone under the age of 25 in Ontario. On January 1 the province launched a significant expansion to medicare, giving four million children and youth access to drug coverage. It’s the first program of its kind in Canada and since it’s brand-spanking-new, you may have a few unanswered questions. Here’s a quick rundown of how the program works.

Do I need to apply?

The new program, dubbed OHIP+, does not require an application. Anyone eligible (i.e. people under the age of 25) can simply provide their pharmacist with a valid health card number to have prescriptions filled for qualifying drugs.

Do I need to pay upfront?

If you’re eligible under OHIP+ you won’t need to pay any costs upfront, you just need to provide your health card number and a valid prescription.

What’s covered under OHIP+?

The program covers the over 4,400 drugs currently available through the Ontario Drug Benefit Program (OBD). This includes:

  • Antibiotics to treat infections
  • Inhalers for asthma
  • Various insulins, oral diabetic medications, and diabetes test strips
  • Antidepressants
  • Oral contraceptives
  • Epilepsy drugs
  • Medications to treat mental health conditions
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) drugs
  • Some drugs to treat childhood cancers and other rare conditions

How do I know if my drugs are covered?

The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care has created a medication coverage checker that allows you to search medications by name, ingredient or Drug Identification Number (DIN) to see if they’ll be covered under OHIP+.

What if my medication isn’t listed as covered?

If you need a drug not covered under the Ontario Drug Benefit (ODB), you can apply for the Exceptional Access Program to get help paying for your prescriptions. Your doctor or nurse practitioner can apply by filling out and submitting the forms.

Find out more about the new program here.