With the new Ontario Health Insurance Plan Plus (OHIP+) program, Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) doesn’t intend on making any changes to its current health/dental plan.
As of Jan. 1, 2018, the new OHIP+: Children and Youth Pharmacare plan covers 100 per cent of prescription drug costs for those under 25. The current RSU health plan covers only 80 per cent for students. Both plans only cover prescription drugs that are under the Ontario Drug Benefit Plan (ODBP).
But the RSU plan does have other benefits. In addition to dental coverage, it also covers mental health services, as well as online video counselling.
In spite of the RSU’s lower coverage in drug costs, Ali Yousaf, RSU’s vice-president operations, said its plan will remain the same during his term in office.
“I think OHIP+ will help out a lot of students but I also believe that they get great benefits through our health plan,” Yousaf said. “[Our] health and dental [plan] can help them do both.”
Yousaf said that the RSU has been focused on mental health services and making it more accessible for students. In September 2017 the plan was updated to include online video counselling based on student demand.
“That was the need and what students wanted,” Yousaf said. “So depending on what students exactly want, the services will be according to that.”
The current RSU health and dental plan allows students to opt into either plan separately or combine both. Students can opt out starting in first-year. One-third of Ryerson students, undergraduate and graduate, who are opted into the plan pay $323 for the whole year, according to Yousaf. The RSU says it makes no profit off the plan and transfers it to students at cost.
While the RSU health and dental plan isn’t making any changes, OHIP+ is good news for some students. Mariam Nouser, a fourth-year industrial engineering student who uses the program, said that it will save her approximately $3,000 by the time she turns 25-years-old. She takes Latuda, a drug that treats mood disorders.
“As a student, I don’t have a job right now and my medication is really important to me, I need it to function day-to-day,” she said.
Nouser lost coverage on her mom’s insurance in 2018, but she’s now covered by OHIP+. However, she still opted into the RSU’s health and dental plan to take advantage of the dental and counselling coverage.
OHIP+ has only had positive benefits for Nouser but if there’s one thing she’d change, it’s that the program should be evaluated by income and not age like the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP).
Other students are just happy to have free prescriptions in general.
Fahim Khan, who moved to Canada six years ago from Bangladesh, said he felt relief for others when the new OHIP+ plan was announced. The third-year engineering student had no coverage for the first two years in Canada and had health issues when he moved. Khan now uses the Trillium Drug Program and the RSU plan.
Khan said when he went to get a prescription, the RSU health/dental plan actually made his medicine cheaper. “Overall, I’m very happy [with the RSU plan], I’ve used it many times and have gotten medication at a cheaper price,” he said.