Comparison of outpatient coverage in Canada: Assistive and medical devices

Allie Peckham, Fiona A. Miller, Gregory P. Marchildon

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

Outpatient technologies are important for maintaining health and overall quality of life, yet the degree of access and coverage of these technologies remains variable within and across jurisdictions. In Canada, assistive technologies are not included in universal health coverage, and are not subject to the Canada Health Act's criteria and conditions that provinces and territories must fulfill to receive the full federal cash contribution under the Canada Health Transfer. As such, the thirteen Canadian provincial and territorial governments make separate decisions on programs and coverage. Drawing on the WHO Universal Coverage Cube we compare who gets access, the types of technologies that can be accessed, and the level of coverage (total costs covered) in Canada. Overall, each Canadian jurisdiction had at least one publicly supported program. All relied on a ‘health assessment’ of an individual's need to determine eligibility. Income and eligibility for social assistance was used as eligibility criteria in 6 of the 13 jurisdictions. Mobility aids as well as audio, visual, and communication aids were included in all jurisdictions. While some programs offered full financial support for some technologies, forms of cost sharing were common. The results are discussed in the context of international experiences, demographic changes, and health system trends to highlight areas for policy learning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1536-1542
Number of pages7
JournalHealth Policy
Volume125
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2021
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Assistive Devices
  • Assistive Technology
  • Canadian Medicare
  • Extended Health Benefits
  • Medical Devices
  • outpatient coverage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy

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