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Showing posts from April, 2010

Dispensing fees -- another new cost for employees?

Here's what one drug plan consultant wrote in Benefits Canada about how the proposed generic drug reforms could affect pharmacy dispensing fees:

Dispensing fees will increase materially to compensate for the adverse financial impact of these proposed changes on pharmacies. In fact, during the week of April 19th, dispensing fees in Ontario immediately increased to $14.99 in some stores. They could easily move materially higher in the weeks and months ahead. For plans without fee caps, an escalation in costs due to higher fees is anticipated.

I might  add that in cases where employer-based drug plans impose dispensing fee caps, union members may well end up on the hook.

Indeed, with the likelihood of increased dispensing fees, some employers are being told to add a dispensing fee cap to their plan if they don't already have one. So while employers may get a break on drug plan premiums, employees may get dinged with extra dispensing fee costs at the drug store. 

So watch our for…

Liberals Caving?

Hewitt and Associates, a corporation which advises employers on insured benefits, estimates that Ontario’s proposed changes regarding generic drugs will mean Ontario employers will see prescription drug plan costs drop by approximately 8% immediately, and by 16% within two years, with additional savings available depending on benefit plan design.

Unfortunately, there are reports that the Liberals may cave-in and provide more (of our) cash to the pharmacy corporations. 

In the last round of drug reform (with Bill 102 in 2006), the then Health Minister, Geroge Smitherman, did just that -- he caved in to demands from the brand name drug companies.  Not surprisingly, the brand name pharamceutical corporations will also be untouched by these latest reforms -- despite the fact that 75% of government drug money goes for their products and they are making a very handsome 25% profit rate.

The result of the last cave in?  Drug spending by the Ontario government went up 21.8% in just 3 years. …

Price based funding and privatization-- BC Minister comes clean

BC is introducing a system of price-based funding for specific hospital procedures.  It sounds similar to the model that Ontario plans to introduce.

The BC Health Minister now admits their model could see private clinics competing with hospitals to provide publicly funded surgeries.  He claims they will ‘be a pretty small piece of the pie’.  CUPE has long claimed price based funding would open doors to privatization -- even while the Ontario government disimissed such concerns.

The for-profits are delighted by the BC Minister's announcement. BC is aiming to have 20% of acute services paid for by price based funding in 2012-3.   While Ontario is not moving as fast (an election is upcoming, after all), there are reports that the province is aiming for 40% of services funded through price-based funding. And like BC, Ontario is starting the new funding system with the bigger hospitals

Liberal MPPs and Hospital Cuts

Lakridge CEO Kevin Empey says the public focus at a LHIN meeting last November "embarrassed" the government into providing a significant funding increase. Lakridge was among four hospitals in this LHIN's region that received a total of $10 million.  Empey said he understood MPPs whose constituents use Lakeridge facilities lobbied for the financial support.

Elsewhere, other Liberal MPPs have been active.

MPP Rick Bartolucci announced in December the funding of a whack of new Sudbury Regional Hospital convalescent beds ( ) . The funding of new convalescent beds at Sudbury Regional Hospital helped deal with the overflow of hospital patients in Sudbury. Other solutions will be slower and "much harder" according to one doctor involved in the issue.

In contrast, other hosptials are cutting hospital beds with the approval of their local Liberal MPP.  Cornwall's Jim Brownell and Northumberland's Lou Rinard…