P.E.I. Health Minister Doug Currie says the province will save $4 million a year on drug costs by making private insurance pay out before the government does. He says the savings will be reinvested into drug plans including the new Catastrophic Drug Program.

Doug Currie - Custom

The money saved will be reinvested in the province's drug cost assistance programs, says Health Minister Doug Currie. (CBC)

The province has more than two dozen programs residents can apply to for assistance in paying for prescription drugs. The new Drug Cost Assistance Act makes the province the payer of last resort if someone with provincial drug coverage also has private insurance.

"Before these changes the province was stepping in if they were on the public program. Basically the insurance companies were off the hook," said Currie.

"This is a reinvestment of approximately $4 million that will be reinvested back into our provincial drug programs."

The new bill also paves the way for government to start charging premiums or annual fees as a requirement before residents can gain coverage under any of the programs. A spokesperson for the Department of Health said there are no immediate plans to start doing that.

Under the new law those caught trying to make fraudulent drug claims would also face much steeper penalties: fines of up to $10,000 and a year in jail compared to the current maximum fine of $500.

P.E.I. drug cost assistance programs

For more information on these programs, click here.

AIDS/HIV Program

Catastrophic Drug Program

Children In-Care Program

Community Mental Health Program

Cystic Fibrosis Program

Diabetes Control Program

Erythropoietin Program

Family Health Benefit Program
Financial Assistance Program Growth Hormone Program
Hepatitis Program High Cost Drugs Program
Immunization Program Institutional Pharmacy Program
Intron A Program Meningitis
Nursing Home Program Nutrition Services Program
Phenylkentonuria (PKU) Program Rheumatic Fever Program
Seniors Drug Cost Assistance Plan Sexually Transmitted Diseases Program
Quit Smoking Program Transplant Drug Program
Tuberculosis Program Rabies Program