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Opinion: How Canada's imperfect medical system impacts one Squamish reporter

Canada’s health care system covers a lot, but there are still gaps.
Steven Chua's medication.
Steven Chua's medication.

Canada’s health care system covers a lot, but there are still gaps.

I’m on a treatment for a chronic condition because of the generosity of a private company — and because they’re betting that, one day, B.C. will approve the drug and will start paying the list price of about $5,600 a month.

It’s an immunosuppressant that has commonly been used for rheumatoid arthritis. Recently, it’s been adapted to treat eczema, which is also believed to be an autoimmune condition.

In the meantime, the provincial government won’t pay a dime for this, as it is still examining the medication. The extended health insurance I get doesn’t cover this.

Thus, I’m entirely dependent on the goodwill of the company, and I’m thankful for that.

However, goodwill has its limits, and companies, ultimately, are out there to make a profit. There may come a day when giving me free treatment no longer makes any financial sense.

I’m hoping that day doesn’t come anytime soon, as the drug has made a substantial difference in my quality of life.

For example, this year was the first time I was able to travel for two weeks without worrying about my health.

There is a strong likelihood that my road trip to Utah would’ve been absolutely miserable if I hadn’t been taking the medication.

Recently I’ve been able to get a glimpse of what life is like without this medication.

Since it’s an immunosuppressant, in order to take a vaccine that I need, I’ve had to give up my medication for a couple of weeks to ensure my immune system can benefit from the effects of the vaccine.

This has meant a temporary return to life before the drug, and it’s been a pretty trying time. It’s painful. It’s tiring.

Luckily for me, at least for the immediate future, I’ll be able to get back on my medicine.

My current discomfort is only a temporary inconvenience.

But it does make me wonder how long I’ll be able to ride this gravy train, and I do wonder what might happen if I go back to living without the benefits of this medication.

Canadian health care is great. We have it way better than our neighbours down south.

For the most part, we are not in the same danger of going bankrupt whenever a sudden emergency requires a trip to the hospital.

However, there are still holes. I am hoping the province approves more medications, including mine. And in the meantime, I’m crossing my fingers that this temporary patch that I depend on doesn’t wear too thin.