There are plenty of things to love about being a Canadian, not the least of which is universal healthcare. And while visiting your family doctor without having to spend a dime is pretty great, our universal healthcare coverage doesn’t extend to prescription medication for most people. Depending on your health, the medication you need and how often you need it, prescription costs can easily balloon from “no big deal” to nightmarish.
Saving money on prescription medication isn’t that different than snagging an awesome deal on a pair of shoes, though—success just requires a bit of legwork. Here are four key tips to getting the meds you need while keeping more money in your wallet.
Be a savvy shopper
Shopping around for the best price on medication is a lot like bargain hunting for clothes, groceries, or anything else. Call various pharmacies to find out how much a prescription will cost—most will provide that info over the phone to help you compare prices. You can also browse online pharmacies, where prices may be lower, and some pharmaceutical manufacturers provide free samples for doctors and pharmacists to pass along to patients, so check to see if any might be available to you. Plus, most provinces have government programs for prescription medication, so research which programs are offered where you live, and whether you qualify.
Delve into dispensing fees
Each time you fill a prescription, the pharmacy charges a “dispensing fee” along with the cost of the medication, and that fee varies from store to store—sometimes, significantly. Do your homework: call various pharmacies to find out what they charge to dispense medication, and don’t forget to check out pharmacies in big-box retailers and grocery stores, where the fees are typically lower.
Also, consider asking for several refills at once if you know you’ll be taking a certain medication long term, or if you’ll need to refill the prescription multiple times. That way, you’re paying fewer dispensing fees over the course of a year—and the savings can add up.
Check in with your doctor
Sometimes, as you and your body change, your medication needs can also evolve. You might need your dosage adjusted; a new medication could prove to be more beneficial to you; a less-expensive alternative drug might be an option; or, in some case, your doctor might discover that you no longer need to be on your medication at all. Regularly checking in with your doctor to reassess your medications is key to ensuring you’re taking exactly what you need to be taking—and that you’re not spending money on unnecessary prescriptions. But remember: Never stop taking any prescribed medication unless your doctor has told you it’s safe to do so!
Get an innoviCares prescription savings card
If you’re looking for a fast, simple, easy and totally free “legwork-light” solution, you can sign up for an innoviCares prescription savings card. It works just like any other drug plan would, helping provide payment assistance on prescription medications: just present your innoviCares card along with your prescription for select medications at any pharmacy in Canada, and the card automatically covers a portion of the cost of your medication. It’s that simple.
The innoviCares card, which covers more than 100 different medications, is available to all Canadian residents and works in conjunction with any existing Canadian drug plan (public or private). There are no fees, no eligibility requirements, no forms to fill out, and the card never expires*. Ever. More than two million Canadians have already signed up!
For more information, to check out the full list of covered medications, and to get your free innoviCares card, visit innovicares.ca.