Your benefits plan includes prescription drug coverage – a significant part of your overall benefits package, especially when you consider that each year, approximately 1 in 3 claimants have drug expenses over $1,000 and 1 in 25 claim more than $5,000.

Here are some tips from Great-West Life on how you can make purchasing decisions to help keep your drug coverage affordable.

Shop Around for your Prescription Drug Plan

On average, plan members claim over $1,200 annually to their prescription drug plan, a figure that has been increasing by 10 to 15 per cent every year. Prices can vary by 10 to 20 per cent or more for the exact same medication from pharmacy to pharmacy so it can be worthwhile to shop around.

Try The Generic Version of Prescription Drugs

Generics are less expensive alternatives to brand name drugs. All generic drugs sold in Canada share the same medicinal ingredients as their brand name counterparts and are regulated by Health Canada as  effective equivalents.

Consult With Your Physician

It’s a good idea to ask your physician about all your treatment options. For example, commonly prescribed treatments for high cholesterol include both brand name and generic products. The annual cost per claimant for one brand of medication is approximately $720 while a generic in the same therapeutic class is only $360 per year. Treatment options may also vary depending on the stage of a person’s medical condition.

 Stop Smoking

Toronto Public health reports that a smoker who quits can save an employer $3,300/year.  Smokers have 20% more absences, are 2 x more likely be in injured at work, have higher disability rates, live 7-8 years less than non-smokers and their increased risk of chronic disease can lead to early retirement.


For over 20 years, Chris Pryce of Human Capital Benefits has been advising employers on all aspects of managing employee benefits programs and related products. If you have any questions, you can contact Chris at 416.924.8280 or by email at