Red Lake Nation News - Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

Prescription delays for indigenous patients amount to triage by race


Eligible First Nations and Inuit people are supposed to have access to drug coverage, dental care, mental health counselling and more. So why does it take days to weeks for people to actually get their prescriptions filled? As a physician who practices in the predominantly indigenous community of Wapekeka, I’d love to see the federal government answer that question.

The Non-Insured Health Benefit (NIHB) program is a national insurance policy that provides prescription drug coverage to Status First Nations and Inuit people not covered by provincial, territorial or private insurance plans. So long as the medication they require is on an auto-approve list, the process is simple: they can immediately pick up the drug from their local pharmacy and have it covered.

Unfortunately, in two percent of claims, the drugs are not on the auto-approve list. Though that might not sound like a lot, that number represents many common medications used to treat chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and asthma.


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