The parliamentary budget officer says a single-payer universal drug plan would cost the federal and provincial governments $11.2 billion in the first year and $13.4 billion over five years.
The PBO report, released Thursday, provides an estimate of the cost of a pharmaceutical care program between 2024-25 and 2027-28.
It calculates the incremental cost of the program, taking into account current government spending on public drug plans, as well as the revenue that would be generated from co-payments under a pharmaceutical care plan.
The Liberals have promised to introduce pharmaceutical care legislation this fall as part of the supply and confidence deal the government struck with the NDP.
The report concludes that a single-payer universal drug plan would generate economy-wide savings, despite its prediction that prescription drug use would increase by 13.5 percent.
This is because the report assumes that implementing a universal single-payer plan would allow for better price negotiations and lower drug prices.
The PBO estimates cost savings on drug spending of $1.4 billion in 2024-25 and says that figure would rise to $2.2 billion by 2027-28.
The report also discusses alternative coverage plans.
A plan that covers only catastrophic drugs (a term used to describe expensive drugs that could cause financial hardship) would cost governments an additional $400 million in the first year and $2 billion over five years.
A plan that covers only essential drugs (those that address a population’s priority health care needs) would cost an additional $2.4 billion in the first year and $12.1 billion over five years.