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Introduction of publicly funded pharmacare and socioeconomic disparities in glycemic management in children and youth with type 1 diabetes in Ontario, Canada: a population-based trend analysis

Giruparajah M, Everett K, Shah BR, Austin PC, Fuchs S, Shulman R. CMAJ Open. 2022; 10(2):E519-26. Epub 2022 Jun 14. DOI:

Background — We evaluated the impact of publicly funded pharmacare (Ontario Health Insurance Plan [OHIP]+), which was introduced in Ontario on Jan. 1, 2018, for youth less than 25 years of age, on temporal trends in hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c, a measure of glycemic management) and the differential effect on the change in temporal trends in HbA1c according to socioeconomic status (SES).

Methods — We conducted a trend analysis using administrative data sets. We included youth aged 21 years, 9 months or younger, residing in Ontario on Jan. 1, 2016, with diabetes diagnosed before age 15 years and before Jan. 1, 2015. We used claims for insulin to measure pharmacare use. We evaluated the change in HbA1c (%) per 90 days before (Jan. 1, 2016, to Dec. 31, 2017) the introduction of and during (Apr. 1, 2018, to Mar. 31, 2019) OHIP+ coverage, and the difference in the change in HbA1c according to SES, using segmented regression analysis.

Results — Of 9641 patients, 7041 (73.0%) made an insulin claim. We found a negligible difference in the temporal change in HbA1c during compared with before OHIP+ coverage that was not statistically significant (β estimate -0.0002, 95% confidence interval [CI] -0.0004 to 0.0000). The size of the effect was slightly greater in those individuals with the lowest SES than in those with the highest SES (β estimate -0.0008, 95% CI -0.0015 to -0.0001).

Interpretation — We found that the effect of OHIP+ on the change in HbA1c was slightly greater for youth in the lowest SES than for those in the highest SES. Our findings suggest that publicly funded pharmacare may be an effective policy tool to combat worsening socioeconomic disparities in diabetes care and outcomes.

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