# Wednesday, March 20, 2019
It is not uncommon for a Canadian to have private health insurance coverage from more than one plan. If this is the case then the question arises: which plan pays out for eligible expenses first and which plan pays out second? The answer to this is a process called "coordination of health insurance benefits". Read on for more information and helpful tips!
posted on Wednesday, March 20, 2019 6:27:41 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #   
# Thursday, February 28, 2019
Have you ever wondered what sort of coverage is actually offered via private health insurance plans in Canada? In this article we take a look at the types of coverage that private health and dental insurance plans offer, as well as how these coverages relate to public Canadian healthcare plans. There are also links to more detailed articles about specific types of coverage for those people who really want to dive into the realm of private Canadian health insurance!
posted on Thursday, February 28, 2019 4:11:58 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #   
# Monday, December 22, 2008

Canadian health officials are urging parents to not give over-the-counter cold medications to children under the age of 6. This warning comes from concerns over misuse and unintentional overdoses of the products. Earlier this year Health Canada recommended that these medications not be given to any children 2 years of age or less and said that there is limited evidence that these medications have any effectiveness in young children.

Health Canada asked a scientific panel to review these issues and while these products cannot be definitely proven; there are signs that cannot be ignored. The panel did find that there were indications of misuse and overdoses, as well as rare instances of serious side effects linked to these treatments. These effects included such problems as heart problems, hallucinations and convulsions; as well 5 deaths have been linked to various cold and cough products.

Officials also have found that very few studies indicate that these products work effectively on children. Since studies designed to test these products are tested on adults, it has always been assumed that they work on children as well. The Nonprescription Drug Manufacturers Association of Canada plans to submit new evidence showing that their products are indeed safe and effective for children to use.

Over a 13 year period, Canadian officials received reports of over 160 negative reactions from children who were given cough and cold remedies. Last year it was recommended that no cold and cough medication be given to any child under the age of 2 unless it was directed by a healthcare professional. Further studies have since been evaluated, and now Health Canada wants to raise that age to 6. Their reasons state:

• Both Canadian and international health professionals and experts agree that these products should not be used for children under the age of 6;
• As body weight can affect how a medication works, some children between 2-6 may weigh the same as some other children who are less than 2 years old which is the most vulnerable group;
• Children under the age of 6 generally have more colds than older children and are more likely to be exposed more frequently to these medications;
• Younger children are less likely to communicate a side-effect from the medicine and ask for help in the same manner as a child over 6.

Health Canada recently released a statement that will now make over-the-counter medications have 'enhanced labeling' for medications for children aged 6-12 and have dosing devices for all liquid formulas. Companies will have until the fall of 2009 to comply with these new standards.

posted on Monday, December 22, 2008 3:53:22 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #   
# Monday, April 14, 2008

There is a common assumption that over-the-counter drugs and vitamins are safe because they do not require a prescription. Very few people read the labels and instructions about the safe use of these products, as well as investigating whether or not they negatively interact with other products and/or prescription medications. Many people also do not think it is important to tell their physician about any herbal supplements they are taking because they mistakenly think that herbal supplements are safe; however, these, mixed with other medications, can prove to be very dangerous.

Using herbs for their medicinal properties has been practiced for centuries. The problem is that people assume that because it is a natural remedy, it is 100% safe. While these supplements can definitely be helpful for some health issues, they must be taken in a safe manner, and with your physician's knowledge. Many times people take too much of these remedies, assuming that because they are natural, they can be consumed in high doses.  Herbal supplements and vitamins can be dangerous if taken in higher doses than suggested, the same as prescription medications. People with certain health issues need to be aware that certain herbal properties can exacerbate their condition, even when taken as directed.

Ginkgo biloba is a common herbal supplement that is used for memory enhancement. This is a very common supplement with Canadian seniors as a natural way to combat the effects of aging. However, many are not aware that ginkgo biloba should never be taken by anyone who is taking prescription blood thinners. Ginkgo biloba contains properties that naturally thin the blood; these combined greatly increase the risk of strokes and/or severe bleeding. Dong quai and ginseng are also dangerous for those on blood thinning medications.

 St. John's Wort is an herb that is commonly used to combat mild or moderate depression, but should never be used with prescription anti-depressants, especially those that are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, i.e. Prozac, Serzone, Luvox, Paxil, or Zoloft. This combination causes an imbalance, and can cause symptoms such as feeling weak, tired and confused; totally defeating the purpose of taking the medication to begin with.

Echinacea is a very popular herbal supplement that is designed to fire up the immune system. Millions of people take Echinacea at the beginning of the winter to help ward off colds as well as the flu virus. As well, many products such as cough drops and multi-vitamins contain Echinacea without the consumer's knowledge. Echinacea however, should never be taken by anyone who uses corticosteroids, or any other prescription medication that is designed to suppress the immune system.

Valerian is an herb that is a natural sedative, and is used by people to help those who are suffering from insomnia, or other sleep disorders. It can be dangerous, however, when combined with other sleep aids, either prescription, or over-the-counter, as it can cause over-sedation. As with any other sleep aid products, it should never be combined with alcohol.

Glucosamine is a natural supplement designed to help with joint problems and arthritis. However, many forms of glucosamine contain sodium, which can be very harmful for those who are on a low-sodium diet i.e. those who have high blood pressure. People who are allergic to shellfish may also be allergic to glucosamine.

You may be unintentionally putting yourself at risk if you are taking herbal supplements and/or certain vitamins if you have health concerns such as:

• Problems with blood clotting
• Any type of cancer
• Any form of diabetes
• Enlarged prostate gland
• Epilepsy
• Glaucoma
• Heart disease
• High blood pressure
• Psychiatric problems
• Parkinson's disease
• Immune system problems
• Have suffered or are in danger of suffering a stroke
• Thyroid problems
• Liver problems
• Are scheduled for surgery

It's important to recognize that the vitamin and herbal supplement industry is not as strictly regulated as prescription pharmaceuticals. This means that often warning labels are not included detailing the potential dangers of a certain product, or other drugs that the product may negatively interact with. And while the majority of natural supplements are safe and effective, they must always be taken in the manner prescribed. Taking too much of natural supplements can be harmful, the same as prescription medication. For optimal health results, tell your physician about everything you take, including vitamins in order to prevent any potential negative interactions. You can also do your own research about these vitamins and supplements to learn about the benefits as well as the dangers. Before buying any supplements, talk to your pharmacist, who is aware of all your prescription medications; they will also be knowledgeable about any potential harm.

posted on Monday, April 14, 2008 3:57:15 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #   
# Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Seniors And Rising Prescription Costs

All Canadian seniors 65 and older are 'supposedly' covered by a provincial drug plan. However, new research shows that out of pocket costs paid by seniors for their prescriptions greatly varies between the provinces. Canadians in 2007 spent $26.9 billion dollars on prescription medication; out of that amount over $4 billion was directly out of pocket. This discrepancy in coverage means that some Canadian seniors are not able to afford much needed prescription medications.

Take, for example, a 65 year old woman on a government pension who suffers from diabetes and high blood pressure and needs 4 prescription medications in order to control her condition. If this woman lives in Ontario her out of pocket expense is eight dollars; if she lives in Manitoba she will have to pay five hundred and three dollars. A 73 year old man who needs five different medications to treat his heart failure will spend 60 dollars in New Brunswick; in Manitoba this expense soars to one thousand, three hundred and thirty two dollars.

These costs are based largely on age, level of income, marital status and your province of residence. It is estimated that the number of Canadians who are eligible for prescription reimbursement varies from 9% in Manitoba to 43% in Quebec; this can also depend on which jurisdiction the person resides in.

The income bracket of a Canadian senior can determine the amount of prescription reimbursement that they are entitled to. New Brunswick and P.E.I. are the most comprehensive provinces, offering seniors either full coverage or paying up to 35% of prescription costs, regardless of income. Ontario and Nova Scotia's reimbursement plans are based on income level. Seniors living in Quebec generally pay more for prescription costs, although there is some relief for low-income as well as those who require long-term and extensive drug treatment. When it comes to Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Newfoundland, seniors will only be covered if they qualify as having a low income status.

Most seniors lose their drug coverage which they had through employee benefits at a time when they need it most. For seniors who are living on a fixed income, these prescription costs may not be affordable, thereby putting their health in jeopardy. For most seniors, prescription coverage is essential in order to make sure that if health problems do occur, they have the means to afford the medication.

A new study has been conducted by SunLife Financial to assess how many Canadian seniors have actually saved money to cover their healthcare costs. They found that only 9% of working Canadians have actually factored in healthcare costs when calculating their retirement savings. 80% of Canadians expect these costs to be covered by their provincial health care program. 65% of Canadians say that they do realize they will have to spend some of their retirement savings on healthcare expenses, but only 37% of this group said they have actually saved for it. 36% of Canadians are under the impression that their employee benefits will provide them with health coverage in their retirement years. And while those who say they are aware that they will need to save money for healthcare costs, the majority admits that they do not know exactly how much this will cost them.

Healthcare related costs need to be correctly assessed when planning retirement. If not, many Canadians may be running the risk of not being able to afford treatments, prescriptions, etc. when it is most needed. For those who have employee benefits, it is important to thoroughly understand what, if any, coverage will be provided upon retirement. It is not feasible to rely on provincial coverage to cover all your costs; private health insurance will more than likely be a much cheaper solution.

Canadian seniors who are retiring and losing their benefits may want to consider purchasing FollowMe coverage. There is no medical exam required if applied for within 60 days of the termination date of the employee benefits coverage. For those whose group insurance expired and it is longer than 60 days, or for those who didn’t have employee benefits, guaranteed issue health insurance is available. You will have your choice of plans depending on your needs, and acceptance is automatic with no medical questionnaire.  As prescription costs can be expensive, as well as subject to being raised, health insurance premiums offer several advantages. For those on a fixed income, the cost can be budgeted for, with a set amount having to be paid. This can be financially more feasible than trying to second-guess how much needs to be saved in the event of having to suddenly require medications. Health insurance will also cover other expenses, such as vision care costs, hospital benefits and dental coverage. Having health coverage will provide the security of knowing your hard earned savings will not be spent on having to cover these expenses, or the uncertainty of not being able to afford treatment.

posted on Wednesday, February 20, 2008 12:04:58 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #   
# Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Osteoporosis Month In Canada

November is Osteoporosis Month in Canada. Approximately 1.4 million Canadians suffer from this disease, which mostly affects aging adults. Osteoporosis is a loss of bone density that causes bone fractures, deformity and/or disability. It usually affects twice as many women as men, with 1 in every 4 women over 50 at risk.

Osteoporosis occurs when bone mineral density is lost. This causes bones to become think and weak, and at high risk for fractures. It is  also known as the "Silent Thief" because there are usually no symptoms of bone loss until fractures start occurring. The most common fractures occur in the wrist, hip and/or spine. Mortality is significantly increased after hip fractures, and less than 50% of seniors fully recover from this ailment. It is estimated that 25% of seniors who have fractured a hip reside in long-term care facilities for at least one year.

Women are twice as susceptible to osteoporosis because they experience menopause. Estrogen is responsible for helping women maintain healthy bones. As estrogen levels drop significantly during menopause, women experience more bone loss. While hormone replacement therapy can help women reduce the drop in estrogen, it can increase their risk of breast cancer, as well as other adverse health effects. This is an option that should carefully be considered by a woman and her physician.

Although not as common in men, osteoporosis can occur. As well as age, there are several factors that increase a person's risk, including:

• A family history of osteoporosis
• Low calcium diet
• Sedentary lifestyle (not enough exercise)
• Low body weight
• Smoking
• Vitamin D deficiency
• Excessive caffeine intake (more than 4 cups a day of coffee, tea, and/or cola)
• Excessive alcohol consumption (more than 2 drinks per day)
• Long term use of certain medications (cortisone, prednisone, anticonvulsants)
• Osteopenia (lower than normal bone density)
• Early menopause or removal of ovaries (before 45) without hormone replacement
• Post-menopausal

If some of these risk factors are applicable to you or someone in your family, talk to your physician about a bone density test. Because bone density loss does not have symptoms until a fracture occurs, it is essential that seniors (especially women) take preventative measures. All seniors should:

• Follow a healthy diet, that includes calcium rich food. People over 50 need 200 mg of calcium per day. As the body ages, it loses the ability to absorb calcium as well as it used to, so seniors may require a calcium supplement. Calcium rich foods include milk products, salmon, beans, sunflower and sesame seeds, green vegetables, figs, and rhubarb.
• Get enough Vitamin D, which helps the body absorb calcium. All people over 2 years of age should consume 500 ml of milk every day, and everyone over 50 should take a daily supplement of 400 IU of Vitamin D.
• Regular exercise is important to keep bones strong. Seniors can do low-impact activities such as walking, dancing, hiking, etc. as part of their daily routine in order to strengthen bones. Activities such as yoga, swimming, tai chi can increase flexibility that helps prevent falls, which is important for those who already have osteoporosis.
• Quit smoking. Just by quitting you can dramatically reduce the rate of bone loss and risk of fractures.

Health concerns and needs change constantly throughout our lives. Therefore, it is imperative that our health insurance coverage reflects these changes, and adequately provides for these needs. For instance, Canadians in their 20's may not give much thought to whether or not their insurance covers such things as nursing homes and/or home care. However, for seniors, this may now be a priority in their coverage.

There are different ways to obtain health insurance that reflects these specific needs. Critical Illness insurance pays a lump sum for those who suffer a critical illness, regardless of if and when you are able to return to work. Although illnesses covered depends on the carrier, C.I. covers such health problems as:

• Cancer
• Heart Attack and/or Stroke
• Alzheimer’s
• Multiple Sclerosis
• Kidney Failure
• Blindness or Deafness
• Organ Transplant
• Parkinson’s Disease

Disability insurance pays a monthly benefit when the insured person is unable to work due to illness and/or accident, usually up to 2/3 of your current earnings. Premiums are higher for occupations deemed more dangerous. This benefit can last up until 2 years, until the age of 65. After 65, this benefit can be continued (although may be modified) but the insured must continue to work.

For residents of Ontario and Quebec there is a new product available from Blue Cross called Tangible. This insurance is a hybrid that offers Disability and Long Term Care if needed; if not it remains as life insurance coverage. With Tangible, 50% of the initial amount insured can be converted for Long Term Care.

It is important to remember that life doesn't remain constant. As our health needs change, we need to ensure that our insurance changes with it. Consult with your broker every few years in order to make sure that your current health insurance reflects your needs.

posted on Wednesday, November 7, 2007 12:11:04 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #   
# Monday, October 15, 2007

Anti-Inflammatory Removed From Canadian Market

Prexige, an anti-inflammatory prescription medication will no longer be sold in Canada. The drug has primarily been prescribed to adults who have exhibited the signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis. Health Canada has canceled the medication's market authorization after receiving additional safety information. Further testing has shown a potential for serious liver problems.

Prexige has been on the market in Canada since November 2006. It has a maximum dose of 100 mg. daily. However, Australia pulled Prexige from their market this year following reports of serious adverse liver problems stemming from doses of 200 mg and 400 mg per day. Upon reviewing the additional safety information, Health Canada has concluded that it is not possible to safely and effectively manage this risk even with 100 mg daily. Currently 2 cases of liver-related problems have been reported in Canada since the drug's approval, and 4 cases have been reported worldwide.

While the vast majority of prescription drugs are safe to use (under a physician's direction) occasionally Health Canada must recall a product. It is important to remember that all medicines carry some risk. When starting a new prescription and/or over-the-counter medication, be aware of any changes that may occur and discuss them with your physician and/or pharmacist. It is possible to have adverse affects from a medication when you mix it with other medications, vitamins, foods and/or beverages. Read and follow the instructions for the prescription carefully. Ask your pharmacist for written information and/or directions regarding your medication.

For people who are currently on prescription medication(s), the following tips may prove to be useful:

• Ask your doctor why you are being prescribed this medication. Have an understanding of why you need this medication, and how it works. Some medications require check-ups and/or tests. Ask about the possible side effects, what to expect and how long it should take to start working. Tell your physician about all other medications, supplements, vitamins, etc. in order to prevent a possible adverse reaction.
• Use the same pharmacist. By doing this, one pharmacy will have your records and be aware of your medications. This will allow your pharmacist to monitor your prescriptions and make you aware of any possible harmful interactions.
• Keep a record of all medications you take. In case of emergency, have a current list of all prescriptions, over the counter medications, vitamins, supplements and herbal remedies you take. This information can be invaluable to a physician in the event of an emergency. It is also important for your physician and pharmacist to have this information.
• Safely store your medication. Read and follow the instructions on how to store your medication. Never combine different pills in one container, as you may not remember the instructions for each one.

If you have any questions about prescription recalls, go to the Health Canada website for further information.

posted on Monday, October 15, 2007 4:57:38 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #   
# Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Safety Issues Regarding Weight Loss Supplements

The rate of obese or overweight Canadians has significantly increased in the past 25 years. While the reasons for this increase remain complex and varied, the fact remains that obesity is a serious health issue. Being significantly overweight greatly increases the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis, certain types of cancer, as well as increased probability of suffering a stroke.

As the obesity rate increases, so has the market for weight loss products. While there are several prescription weight-loss medications available in Canada, these are intended only for people who are medically at risk due to obesity. These drugs should be used under the strict supervision of a physician, and to be used as part of a medically sound weight loss plan that also includes physical activity and a balanced diet. These drugs should never be taken without the approval of your doctor, as there can be side effects and/or health risks. You should only use these medications exactly as prescribed, and never share them. It is not advisable to order these drugs online, unless you have a prescription from your doctor.

There are also various natural health products that are readily available in pharmacies, supermarkets, health food stores and/or online. While some of these products are safe and/or effective, it is important to remember that there is no such thing as a magic pill that will miraculously make you lose weight. Any weight loss supplement, whether prescription or over the counter, will only work if it is a part of a weight loss plan that includes diet and exercise.

It is a common mistake to assume that over the counter diet aids are safe and effective. In fact, they could potentially lead to serious health concerns. If you are planning to use health products in order to lose weight, do some research and be informed about the potential risks of the products available. It is important to be aware of the ingredients in the health product you intend on using, and whether these ingredients can have an adverse effect when used with other drugs or foods. As well, these products may not be safe is you have other health problems or are elderly.

While it is impossible to list all the risks that are associated with all of the available products, here are some basic guidelines to help you make a wise, informed choice:

• Never use prescription weight loss medication that has not been prescribed to you by your family health care provider.  There are internet websites that will allow you to purchase these drugs without a prescription from your family doctor. Instead, you "consult" online with one of their "professionals". However, this can be very dangerous, as only your physician is completely aware of your medical history and health status. You may inadvertently be prescribed a medication that is harmful to you.

• Taking several different weight loss products together at the same time. Certain weight loss products and natural health products contain different ingredients that when combined may be harmful to you. These ingredients may also negatively interact with other medication you may be taking. Even if the product you intend on using does not need a prescription, consult with your health care provider in order to ensure that you plan on taking is safe for you.

• Be aware of who you're buying your product(s) from.  If you purchase these products online, be aware that not all websites are legitimate. Anyone can put up a website and advertise health products. These products, including prescriptions, may not be approved for sale in Canada because they are deemed unsafe and/or ineffective. Research the company that you are considering purchasing your health products from, and make sure that they are legitimate.

• Never take products in a manner for which they are not intended. Products like ephedra or ephidrene are authorized in Canada as a decongestant. However, they have been commonly misused as a weight loss supplement. Laxatives are also commonly misused in this fashion as well. These products are not intended to be used as weight loss supplements, and can cause serious health problems if used in such a manner.

• Do not assume that products are safe because they are advertised as natural.  Active components from a food substance can be extracted, concentrated and manufactured or sold as a natural health product. While the original food may in itself be safe when consumed in moderation, the higher doses found in the extract may be potentially harmful. This is especially true in the case of green tea, which is very safe, but where the highly concentrated form has been linked to serious liver damage.

• If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Many advertisements make claims that are not supported by scientific fact. Many supplements claim to suppress appetite, increase metabolism and/or block the absorption of carbohydrates or fat. Products that are authorized for sale by Health Canada have been assessed and determined to be safe and effective for their authorized purpose. However, unauthorized products can be harmful, and/or ineffective.

It is important to consult with your physician or health care provider before embarking on any weight loss plan. While medications and/or supplements can help you lose weight, it is important to remember that there is no pill that will melt off the pounds. It is essential to incorporate exercise and healthy eating into your lifestyle in order to shed the unwanted pounds.

If you have been denied health insurance due to your weight issue, you may want to purchase Guaranteed Issue coverage. This policy does not require any medical information or ask questions regarding your health. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding this coverage.

posted on Wednesday, July 18, 2007 12:36:57 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #   
# Monday, March 19, 2007

Ordering Prescriptions Online

How Saving A Few Dollars May Affect Your Health

Online pharmacies have become a popular way for Canadians to purchase their prescriptions. They offer fast, cheap delivery, and sometimes do not require a prescription from your health care provider, and instead offer a consultation with their own "specialist". While there are legitimate websites that offer prescription medications, some are not licensed for Canada, which means they do not follow our strict federal guidelines for approved usage. Canada has strict FDA guidelines to ensure that prescription drugs available for purchase here are of high quality and are safe and effective to use.

Websites that offer prescriptions from companies that do not originate in Canada may offer prescription drugs that are not approved for sale here. These shipments run the risk of being seized at the Canadian border, leaving the consumer to pay for a purchase they will not receive. It is important to remember that if you choose to buy your prescriptions online that you choose a Canadian based company that is licensed to sell pharmaceuticals and that meets the regulatory requirements in your province. All therapeutic drugs that are approved for sale in Canada have an eight digit Drug Identification Number (DIN). A DIN means that the drug has been assessed by Health Canada, and is considered safe and effective when used in the prescribed manner.

Ordering prescription drugs from a company that doesn't require a written prescription from your own doctor poses certain health risks. You cannot be properly diagnosed simply by filling out a questionnaire online. Therefore, you may be prescribed a drug that is ineffective and/or potentially harmful. The only way to ensure that you are being properly diagnosed and treated is to consult with your physician, who is aware of your medical history and health issues. Under no circumstances is it recommended to use prescription drugs without the consent of your doctor. Consumers should be aware of any website offering a "miracle cure" for such problems as weight loss, baldness, or sexual enhancement. Many of these "miracle cures" offer no legitimate treatment, and may be potentially harmful. Even if these treatments do not require a prescription, they may interact with your current medications, or have unhealthy side effects.

So why are some prescriptions more expensive in Canada than other countries? The price of a prescription may depend on whether a generic version of the drug is available for sale. As with most consumer products, generic brands can be substantially cheaper to purchase than name brand products. The availability of generic brand prescriptions depends on the licensing agreements that the pharmaceutical companies have with the country in which they are selling their product. Currently in Canada the exclusive selling rights for brand-name prescription drugs has been increased from 5 years to 8 years. Therefore, your prescription may be available in the generic version somewhere else before it is available here.

Canadians who do not have employee benefits may want to consider purchasing health insurance coverage that covers prescription drug costs. HealthQuotes.ca offers a wide variety of health insurance plans that include prescription benefits. FlexCare offers either a Core Plan or you can choose one or more Stand-Along packages. Core Plans can be upgraded with Stand-Alones as your needs change. Blue Choice has 80% reimbursement for all eligible prescription medications, with no annual or lifetime maximums.

If you have health conditions then consider guaranteed issue health insurance, which is not medically underwritten (e.g. does not have health questions or exam). FollowMe from Manulife Financial is a guaranteed issue conversion plan that is especially ideal for people who have recently lost their employee benefits coverage.

posted on Monday, March 19, 2007 2:40:24 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #   
# Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Health Literacy

The Canadian Council on Learning has recently released an analysis which suggests that an alarming number of Canadians do not understand their health care instructions. They suggest that over 90% of Canadian seniors and 55% of working-age Canadians lack the literacy skills required to accurately read and follow prescription instructions, understand food nutrition labels or to give informed consent.

Failure to accurately read prescription instructions can lead to dosing errors, causing further health issues. For Canadians with diabetes, blood glucose scores may not be read properly, and therefore not be treated appropriately. This can further be aggravated by not understanding the nutrition labels on food which can determine whether that certain product is good for them, or is potentially harmful.

Seniors are statistically the population with the most complex health problems, with 9 out of 10 Canadian seniors currently taking at least one prescription drug. It is therefore vitally important that Canadians with elderly parents, relatives, or friends who have health issues to ensure that prescription instructions are understood and followed correctly.

Seniors may also not be aware of what their current health insurance policy covers when it comes to prescriptions and diabetic supplies, or whether they need to upgrade their coverage. For those who have elderly parents, relatives or friends that have medical issues, and who are not able to accurately read and assess their policy, we recommend that you read the policy with them, and ensure that they understand what their benefits cover. For those seniors who are now experiencing different health-care related costs, their policy may need to be changed in order to reflect these new changes.

If you suspect that an elderly person close to you may be experiencing problems understanding their current health coverage, please call us at 1-800-474-4474 to discuss these issues.

posted on Tuesday, January 30, 2007 3:55:30 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #   
# Thursday, September 7, 2006

Canadian Dispensing Fees

In Ontario the dispensing fees you pay the pharmacist are posted for you to see, and you may have noticed that those fees are not the same everywhere.

Here are some of the costs that pharmacies use to determine the dispensing fee:

  • Supplier costs.
  • Providing drug counseling.
  • Providing information to physicians and suppliers.
  • Record keeping.
  • Stocking of prescription drugs.

Some expenses are not directly prescription drug related but are business expenses, which are also taken into account when calculating and setting the dispensing fees. For example, the rent paid for the office spaces, the salaries of employees, etc.

So what options are open to the consumer? Shop around! Even within such major chains as Shoppers Drug Mart or Rexall Drugs, dispensing fees still vary. In Ontario the dispensing fees can range from $2.00 to $15.00 or more.

For persons with high and frequent use of prescription drugs there is also the option of using mail order pharmacies, who generally have lower fees.

There are also health plans out there that will pay reasonable and customary dispensing fees in full. An example of this is Manulife's Flexcare ComboPlus (Enhanced) plan.

posted on Thursday, September 7, 2006 2:50:05 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #   
# Wednesday, June 21, 2006


How Ontarians will be Affected

It seems as though the Ontario government is quickly succumbing to pressure from large pharmaceutical companies. Bill 102, originally introduced in April 2006, was designed to help lower prescription costs for Ontario residents, but quickly outraged brand-name pharmaceutical companies.

One of the biggest issues in this controversy revolves around generic drug substitutions. As prescription drugs are one of the fastest growing elements in Canadian health-care spending, generic prescription drugs are a major threat to the profits of large pharmaceuticals. Currently, pharmacists are only required to substitute cheaper generic brands for drugs purchased under the provincial plan, or under workplace plans that demand such substitutions. Bill 102 theoretically would have allowed pharmacists to substitute generic drugs in all cases, unless specifically objected to by the prescribing physician. This would have meant significant savings to the consumer who is currently not covered under any health plan. Unfortunately, the government has since decided that "further studies must be done", leaving Ontarians to continue to pay top dollar for brand name prescriptions.

This decision leaves the Ontario consumer who does not have prescription coverage left with having no alternative but to pay the added costs of buying brand name drugs. For those who currently don’t have coverage, either individually or through their employer, purchasing health insurance may be a viable option. Such carriers as Manulife Financial, Ontario Blue Cross, Great West Life and Sun Life offer affordable coverage to ensure that Ontarians aren’t left struggling to cover rising prescription costs.

posted on Wednesday, June 21, 2006 6:11:40 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #   
# Friday, February 10, 2006

Eligible Prescription Drugs

**** UPDATE: January, 2017 *****

We now have a very detained, in-depth analysis of prescription drugs covered by Canadian health insurance plans via an InfoDesk article: Prescription Drugs and Canadian Health Insurance. Please refer to this article.


Oftentimes our brokers get inquiries about prescription drug coverage, in particular what types of drugs are covered and what are not. 

First it needs to be understood that this will vary, depending on the type of individual health insurance plan you have. However, having said this there is prescription drug coverage that is common to most plans.

To be covered by your health plan the prescription must first be prescribed by a licensed physician, and also have what is called a "DIN" (drug identification number) number that identifies the drug. Note that one DIN # can be used for products with different sizes (as long as all other product characteristics such as the product name, manufacturer name, etc. are the same).

Some examples of commonly covered prescriptions are: lipitor, prozac, amoxil, insulin, etc. .

The following are common exclusions to covered prescriptions:

  • Fertility drugs are generally excluded (an exception to this is the FlexCare ComboPlus Enhanced plan).
  • Some life style drugs and experimental drugs that have not been approved by the Medical Association are excluded.
  • Over the counter drugs are not eligible medications.

Also, reimbursement of drugs is based on the lowest-cost generic equivalent ( if available) for many health plans.

If you do not know if a medication is covered by your health plan then call your insurance company, and give them your policy number and the DIN # of the particular prescription drug you were prescribed.

If you do not know the DIN number of a prescription drug click on the following link, select "DIN" and then enter the name of the drug in question: - Get DIN # -.

posted on Friday, February 10, 2006 8:08:29 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #   
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