Associations of health services utilization by prescription drug coverage and immigration category in Ontario, Canada
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Canada is the only high-income country with a universal healthcare system that does not provide prescription drug coverage for all its residents. This study examines whether Canadians' prescription drug coverage status is associated with their health services use and how this association differs by gender across non-migrants and three categories of migrants: economic immigrants, family-class immigrants, and refugees. Very few studies have examined differences across these migrant groups, and there is a need to do so as they experience varying health disparities. This study contributes to the prescription drug coverage, migration and health literature by employing an intersectional lens to analyze a sample of Ontario working-aged residents (n=39,792) generated from linking the Canadian Community Health Survey (2005, 2008, 2013, 2014) and Longitudinal Immigrant Database. Predicted probabilities and average marginal effects from multivariable logistic regression models were generated, and interaction effects between prescription drug coverage and immigrant status were examined. The study reveals important differences in the use of health services across prescription drug coverage groups by immigration status. As the general debate about universal pharmacare in Canada is ongoing, this study reveals that drug insurance is positively associated with health services use of most migrants and non-migrants, however, some immigrant women may still experience barriers to access general practitioner services. If pharmacare is introduced, ongoing evaluation is needed to ensure that its implementation produces equitable outcomes for all.
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