# Wednesday, 20 February 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, 20 February 2008 12:04:58 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #   
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