Every once in a while, the stars align in such a way that somebody somewhere actually gets an idea that doesn’t completely suck. It’s not very often that happens with the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP), so when it does, it ends up being somewhat of a historic occasion. In this case, they actually might have done something that could possibly be called logical–I know, I know, but please try to hang on to your everything.
For literally years, people on ODSP have received a monthly drug/dental card when they’ve received their other, albeit not entirely significant, benefits for the month. This card covers certain dental care procedures, as well as some prescription drugs (*) to deal with other issues. The problem with the system, and the thing that didn’t make sense to me, is the prescriptions these cards covered were virtually entirely governed by the Ontario Health Insurance Program (OHIP). OHIP, for the painfully curious, is Ontario’s healthcare option for people who otherwise don’t have their own health insurance (Yes, healthcare idealists, we can still purchase private insurance if we can aford it. Deal with it.). It’s far more restrictive than most other insurance packages, but when you’re flat broke, poor, unemployed or otherwise unable to make off with something better, it gets you through in a pinch. But the two systems sort of semi-working together creates just a wee bit of nonsensical confusion and, well, the poor saps stuck sorting it out are usually the people who need the drugs.
Problem the first: These drug cards only last a month, then they expire–usually on the day you’re expected to get your hands on a new one. Which is awesome, until you end up dealing with–let’s say–a Canada Post strike, at which point you and the poor suckers who work the ODSP offices get to perform an emergency backstep because suddenly you’re out of benefits. Every office, at that point, tends to come up with their own way of handling it–some offices will require you go pick them up, which is awesome if you can get there. Some will just decide your benefit card from the previous month is still valid–at which point you hope like hell you or they can manage to communicate that to the people who need it communicated with (good luck, at least in Ottawa).
Problem the second: Some places like to hold on to your drug/dental cards. Let’s say you’ve done the prescription thing for whatever reason of the week. You wander off to the pharmacy to scoop them up on your way to do the life thing. Awesome. Pharmacy decides now would be a fine time to let you know that by the way they’ll just be holding on to your drug card for you. Good idea, right? Sure, as long as you don’t use any other services that require you present it. And then there’s the matter of the afore mentioned Canada Post strike, or potential for the same. Assuming you’re one of these people who’s ODSP office has decided your card for last month is still valid because mail stoppage, that does you no good if your pharmacy is holding the card from last month and you need it for a service you’re starting up this month. Of course if your ODSP people have no clue what they’re doing it does you no good anyway, but you know, can’t plan for everything.
So the solution they come up with–and as usual with Ontario’s government, public details are just a tad nonexistent–is to tie the benefits you receive directly to your health card. Awesome. Awesome, and way the hell overdue. The devil, of course, is in the details, but if it eliminates the need for people to sift through more paperwork at the start of every month, and if it can even cut down just a touch on the supposed administrative costs ODSP would like to have us think are bleeding the system dry, it can only mean good things for us. And tying the thing to the Ontario health card means–again, in theory as there’s nothing publicly available on the subject–that the problem of the monthly renewal dance is potentially a thing of the past. In theory, as long as your health card hasn’t expired, then neither have your benefits. And since prescriptions aren’t actually covered by anything attached to ODSP anyway, but are instead covered by the same people who issue you a new health card every so often, this makes my head hurt just a little bit less. Who knew ODSP could actually find a strand of logic under all that nonsense. I think the temperature in hell just dropped a couple degrees. Now if they can just avoid screwing it up the second the system changes, that would be amazing.
(*): If someone could actually explain OHIP’s prescription covering process to me, that would be wonderful. They’ll cover brand names for certain drugs, but not the generic versions. They’ll cover the generic versions of other drugs, but not the brand name. And they don’t necessarily cover all of the types of drugs that would make sense–certain types of, let’s say, more effective migraine medication as an example. I don’t get it. which, I suppose, is why I don’t work in–or do any work whatsoever for–government. Now if government in general and OHIP in particular would just decide it’s in their best interest to work for us, that would be amazing. Hey, ODSP’s trying–clearly, miracles do happen. sort of.
PS: ODSP, do not make me regret that last sentence. Please? I don’t have nearly enough vodka.