The Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term care has an ‘About us’ page on their website that reads as follows.
The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care is working to establish a patient-focused, results-driven, integrated and sustainable publicly funded health system. Its plan for building a sustainable public health care system in Ontario is based on helping people stay healthy, delivering good care when people need it, and protecting the health system for future generations.
I regret I have to challenge that statement in regards to The Trillium Drug Plan and the ‘challenges’ – actually it is better worded as a battle in getting my wife and I on the plan. The result of this nearly 8 month odyssey has resulted in us declaring bankruptcy and coming close to losing our family home.
A bit of history is called for. In late 2011 I was laid off from my full time job which included a very good drug plan. in early March of 2013 my severance which included the drug plan expired. Normally this would not be a cause of concern for most Ontario families except my Wife has some not so normal health issues.
She has lupus, fibromyalgia, lupus anticoagulant syndrome and heart arrhythmia, asthma and chronic depression. Because of this she has a large regime of prescription drugs that costs in the neighborhood of $400-$500 per month.
As I had been unable to find work in a large company where all employees are enrolled in a drug plan regardless of existing conditions, we started the process to enroll in the Ontario Trillium Drug plan.
After submitting all the information by both email and regular mail, you are informed the average wait time is 5 weeks. 5 weeks come and go and not a reply, I have started to submitted receipts from our prescriptions to the plan as well.
Finally a letter comes back saying we have not submitted all the information. I complete what they ask for and email and send it back. Several weeks later a similar letter come back asking for something else ‘I had forgotten’. Now imagine this going on from April all the way through until now.
At one point my wife was so upset she got the services of a councilor to help us navigate this process. In the mean time we kept receiving letters saying we were not eligible for some of the meds my wife needed for her conditions. There were the three most expensive meds.
In late October after running up a debt of $4000 to our local drug store, declaring bankruptcy and being told Trillium had lost some of the information I had submitted for a second time. I approached the Minister of Health Deb Mathews to see if she could clear some of this log jam. The other motivation was that if I did not find work, my wife and I would have to separate so she could go on ODSP
In particular we have two issues. We had requested a review of the deductible being charged based that I was on EI since march, and when we could start seeing money back to pay for these meds as the program promises.
After 2 weeks in which the constituency office did not make any headway even getting basic information, I called into the Trillium support line again and got a fabulous staff member who spent an hour with me going over exactly what was missing/lost and what I needed to resend. She sent me a list in email detailing exactly what needed to be sent. I sent that in via email, fax and normal mail. I sent a copy to my Wife’s councilor who also faxed and sent it off.
Tonight I got letter from Trillium saying they required a T1 statement and a gross amount on my EI statement. They have already been sent copies of these forms several times. I am now concerned about the privacy implications of losing these documents which includes information like our social insurance numbers.
What needs to be done?
Trillium needs to quit playing games with peoples’ lives and health and start to approve people. It’s almost as if they are hoping people give up.
A review of the process is a must. At the present time thanks to some very generous members of the community, we have been able to purchase my wife’s prescriptions going into January. However there are many in this province who are not as fortunate or as lucky to have family and friends who can help. In this modern age 5 weeks for a decision is a problem.
We have governments in power from all three major parties in the last 20 years who have all promised to improve these system. Yet we continue to do the equivalent of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Forcing people onto ODSP and denying them life saving medicine ultimately costs the health care system and the citizens of Ontario far more.
We assume that everyone is out to ‘scam’ the system but studies have shown that very few people actually do. Of those left that do, quite often it is in desperation. As a citizen of this great province it is not something I’m proud of. It is something that those of all political viewpoints must come together on.
Healthcare is an expensive thing, we all know that, but we must become better stewards of our fellow citizens of this province.
Update 1 Nov 28th
I recieved another letter from Trillium today, telling me I had to send in proof of employment from October 20th-December 31 2013. First of all, I don’t have a time machine to go one month into the future. Second point, I had sent my ROI’s in the original submission in the summer and twice again in the fall. This was before the 20th of Oct.
Update 2 These are the email addresses I sent the post to. At the moment the only reply I go was from a staffer in Deb Matthews office and an auto reply from firstname.lastname@example.org.
Deb Matthews, MPP (Constituency Office) <email@example.com>
firstname.lastname@example.org,email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, Psattleremail@example.com
Perhaps someone else can email them and ask what’s going on.