Eight in Ten (82%) Canadians Believe that Prescription Drugs Should be Covered for Everyone, Regardless of their Insurance Coverage

Canadians are Divided on Whether or Not They’d Pay More for Better or Quicker Healthcare Services

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  • Jennifer McLeod Macey Vice President, Canada, Public Affairs
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Toronto, ON, May 16, 2019 — Having universal coverage for prescription drugs has long been discussed in Canada. According to an Ipsos poll conducted on behalf of Global News, this is something that eight in ten (82%) believe should be covered for everyone, regardless of what insurance coverage they have, including four in ten (43%) who strongly agree. BC residents (57% strongly agree, lowest in Alberta 34%), lower income earners (53% <$40K strongly agree vs. 38% $100K+), and younger Canadians (51% under 35 strongly agree vs. 42% 35-54, 39% 55+) are all more likely to strongly agree that prescription medication should be covered for everyone.

Currently, seven in ten (71%) Canadians pay at least partly out-of-pocket for prescription drugs and spend an average of $500 per year. Two in ten (22%) Canadians say they have no medical insurance coverage. This is highest among lower income earners (35% <$40K strongly agree vs. 9% $100K+), residents of Saskatchewan and Manitoba (32% SK/MB vs. 18% BC, 18% QC, 19% Alberta), and those aged 55+ (27% vs 20% 35-54, 18% 18-34). Those who say they have no medical insurance coverage spend significantly more on average than those who say they have insurance ($722 vs. $437).

Canadians are Also Highly Supportive of Both Mental Health (91%) and Dental Services (86%) Should be Covered for Those Who Don’t Have Insurance

Half of Canadians strongly agree that mental health (51%) and dental services (49%) should be covered for those without insurance coverage of their own. Lower income earners (61% <$40K strongly agree vs. 39% $100K+) and women (53% vs. 44% men) are most likely to strongly believe that dental services should be covered for those without insurance of their own. Women are also more likely to strongly believe that mental health services should be covered for those without insurance (59% vs. 42% men), as are younger Canadians (55% 18-34, 54% 35-54 vs. 45% 55+).

Among those without medical insurance coverage, just over half (55%) say that they pay out-of-pocket for dental services, which may suggest that nearly half (45%) are opting not to visit the dentist all together. Of those who are paying out-of-pocket for dental services, about one in ten (13%) are spending $1,000 or more per year, with the average spend being roughly $650.

Much fewer of those without medical insurance coverage are paying out-of-pocket for mental health services (7%), with an average spend among those being about $530 per year out-of-pocket.

Canadians Generally Satisfied with Healthcare in Canada, But Don’t See Wait Times Being Better Than Other Countries

Three-quarters (76%) of Canadians say they are satisfied with the country’s healthcare, however, this is largely made up of those saying they are somewhat satisfied (57%), with only two in ten indicating they are very satisfied (18%). Men report higher satisfaction than women (79% vs. 72%) and regionally, those in the Prairies have the highest satisfaction (84%), while those in Atlantic Canada are the least satisfied (63%).

When it comes to satisfaction with wait times based on personal experiences, Canadians report the highest satisfaction with wait times to see their primary care provider, with two in three (68%) saying they are satisfied (22% very/46% somewhat satisfied). Among those with experience, satisfaction with wait times for homecare services (54%) and non-emergency services in hospitals (53%) is mixed but leans towards positive. Dissatisfaction outweighs satisfaction for wait times for ER services (58% dissatisfied – 28% very/30% somewhat dissatisfied) as well as to see publicly funded mental health practitioners (55% dissatisfied – 27% very/28% somewhat dissatisfied).

In line with their dissatisfaction with wait times for mental health practitioners, two in ten Canadians say they have been forced to seek and pay for private mental health services due to long wait times or lack of publicly funded mental health services. Canadians under 35 are the most likely to have had to turn to private mental health services (30% vs. 23% 35-54, 12% 55+).

As the table below shows, only a minority of Canadians believe that wait times for healthcare services in Canada are better than in most other countries, with primary care providers being the highest among the services, as four in ten (39%) perceive their wait times as better. Over three in ten Canadians think that wait times for ER services (37%), non-emergency services in hospitals (35%), and to see a publicly funded mental health practitioner (31%) are worse in Canada than most other countries.

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The Dollars and Cents of Healthcare

Canadians show mixed knowledge on the costs of healthcare in Canada. Eight in ten (84%) say healthcare in Canada is a mix of both publicly and privately funded services including two in ten who strongly agree (22%). At the same time, six in ten (59%) say that healthcare in Canada is free, including the same proportion who strongly agree (20%).

Once explained that the healthcare system in Canada is a mix of public and private, six in ten (60%) say they are satisfied with the current system of a public/private mix. However, this is largely made up of those saying they are somewhat satisfied (50%), with only one in ten (10%) indicating they are very satisfied. Canadians under the age of 35 report higher satisfaction with the public/private healthcare mix (68% vs. 56% 35-54, 57% 55+).

Canadians are split down the middle (50% agree) on whether they would pay more for better or quicker healthcare services. Those under the age of 35 (64% vs.48% 35-54, 41% 55+), those who are higher income earners (61% $100K+ vs. 41% <$40K), and those with children under 18 (56% vs. 47% no children) are most likely to say that they would be inclined to pay for better or quicker healthcare services. Regionally, BC residents and Quebecers (54% respectively) are most likely to feel this way, with Albertans being the least likely to agree (39%).

When asked if they or a loved one required medical treatment and they had the financial means to comfortably seek treatment elsewhere, one in three (35%) say they would go abroad, while four in ten (38%) say they would stay in Canada; one in four say they do not know (26%). Perhaps unsurprisingly, higher income earners are the most likely to say that they would go abroad (46% $100K+ vs. 27% <$40K).

Canadians often view our universal healthcare system as a source of pride and a point of differentiation between us and our Southern neighbours. However, four in ten (42%) say they been in a position where their medical expenses were greater than their disposable income. Among those, half (48%) say they have used credit cards to handle these expenses, four in ten (39%) say they have borrowed from family or friends, and one in four say they have taken out a loan (24%). Younger Canadians (53% 18-34, 46% 35-54 vs. 32% 55+), parents with children under 18 (50% vs. 40% no children), and lower income earners (50% <$40K vs. 40% $100K+) are most likely to say that they have been in a situation where their medical expenses outweighed their disposable income.

About the Study

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between April 1st to 3rd, 2019. For this survey, a sample of 1,001 Canadians 18+ was interviewed. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics to ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within ±3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.

For more information on this news release, please contact:

Jennifer McLeod Macey, Vice President

Ipsos Public Affairs, Canada

+1 416 502 2749

jennifer.macey@ipsos.com

About Ipsos

Ipsos is an independent market research company controlled and managed by research professionals. Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos has grown into a worldwide research group with a strong presence in all key markets. Ipsos ranks fourth in the global research industry. With offices in 89 countries, Ipsos delivers insightful expertise across five research specializations: brand, advertising and media; customer loyalty; marketing; public affairs research; and survey management. Ipsos researchers assess market potential and interpret market trends. They develop and build brands. They help clients build long-term relationships with their customers. They test advertising and study audience responses to various media and they measure public opinion around the globe. Ipsos has been listed on the Paris Stock Exchange since 1999 and generated global revenues of €1,780.5 million in 2017.

The author(s)

  • Jennifer McLeod Macey Vice President, Canada, Public Affairs

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