We’ve all been there. You visit the pharmacy to pick up a prescription and your heart skips a beat when you find out your total owing. Even with health coverage from Alberta Blue Cross®, some prescription drug prices are inescapable. 

We are always looking for ways to help you get the most out of your benefits, that includes finding ways to keep out-of-pocket expenses to a minimum when filling your prescriptions.

Here four things you can try today.

1. COMPARE PHARMACY DISPENSING FEES

Pharmacies charge a fee every time they dispense a medication. As an Alberta Blue Cross member, you benefit from our pharmacy agreements, which ensure that pharmacies cannot charge you an excessive dispensing fee. However, some pharmacies may choose to charge lower dispensing fees. By assessing the services you receive from your pharmacy and the dispensing fees they charge, you may decide to choose a pharmacy that provides you with the best price for your prescription drug purchases so that you pay less out of pocket.

2. GET A LONGER SUPPLY OF MEDICATIONS FOR CHRONIC CONDITIONS

If you are taking a medication on a regular basis for treatment of a chronic condition, ask your pharmacist if it’s possible to fill a three-month supply. This will limit the number of trips you have to make to the pharmacy and saves you money on dispensing fees.

3. REQUEST A GENERIC DRUG

Generic drugs contain the same amount of active ingredients and work the same as brand-name medications, but they often cost much less. All drugs are subject to the same standards when approved by Health Canada, so choosing generic drugs can decrease out-of-pocket expenses and keep your drug plan affordable.

The next time you fill your prescription, ask your pharmacist if there is a generic option available.

4. REVIEW YOUR MEDICATIONS REGULARLY

Have your doctor or pharmacist regularly re-evaluate your medications. This a great way to make sure your therapy is safe, effective and still required.

8 Comments

  • Connie. Glasier says:

    Could you please email me the coverage I have currently I do not know aAB C D

  • Ed Cappis says:

    How does one find out the pharmacies dispensing fees when they advise you that it is confidential.

    • Hi Ed,

      Dispensing fees are not at all confidential. You should be able to walk into (or call) any pharmacy and ask what they would charge for a dispensing fee. Keep in mind the fee will depend on the drug, the cost of the drug and what it takes to put it together (are they mixing ingredients for instance) so it can vary and there’s not just one flat fee. That being said, if you call your pharmacy and says my doctor prescribed X drug I need to know what you would charge for a dispensing fee, your pharmacy should be able to provide that information.

  • Linda Mills says:

    Interesting what you say about prescriptions. You say we just talk to a pharmacist to get up to three months on drugs. My pharmacist says it is Blue Cross that holds them back from dispensing more. I was getting most of my prescriptions at once, and Blue Cross wouldn’t allow one of my drugs for two more days. Two more days!! I had to go back to my pharmacy, when I would like to spend as little time as possible in stores, and, I do not live in town, making it more difficult to come back for a prescription. Not cool, ABC

    • Hi Linda,

      To ensure all Albertans had continued access to essential medications and to help pharmacists manage drug supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Alberta government provided guidance that pharmacies provide a maximum 30-day supply of prescription drugs.

      While supply levels appear to be returning to normal, some drugs are still in limited supply. Pharmacists should use their professional judgment and dispense a 30-day supply when necessary for specific drugs that continue to have shortages or supply chain issues.

      We’re sorry you had to return the pharmacy so soon and hope this can return to normal as soon as possible. To stay up to date on how COVID-19 is impacting your drug coverage, please check out the prescription drug information page on our website.

  • Michael Kelly says:

    I am not a Blue Cross member but was considering it, perhaps for next year. I find the issue of delaying refill date and maximum supply limits quite concerning. I have a pre-existing condition that requires 2x daily medications and have to take it or face serious medical risk related to sudden withdrawal of the drugs from my system. My current specialist has not informed me that I should stay with the brand name and when the pharmacist asks me if I have any issue with generics I say I am fine with those rather than brand names. However generics or brand name they take time to come in and supply chain issues can leave me exposed particularly during CoVid so I always order prior to potential exhaustion of my supply. I always order 3 months though it is more for convenience than to minimize dispensing fees. In fact, in the next 3 weeks I will be ordering a 6 month supply of medication as I am travelling and am not sure of the availability of the generic or brand name medication where I am going (it is not the edge of civilization but is a small town) and I have researched and the cost if available is approximately 4x the Canadian cost which would put at least one of my medication out of reach for the middle income earners in that community. So availability is still an unknown. Am I to take from the above discussion that if I was using ABC I cannot refill my prescription before exhausting my supply and that ABC is following Gov AB guidelines re CoVid to refuse to allow claims for medications in excess of a 30 day supply? This would leave me with risk on the initial fill and increased cost and availability risk at the destination end. Also is the ABC prescription cover fixed on the reasonable cost of the medication in Alberta or the cost incurred to procure in another destination?

    Thanks in advance. Your reply will dictate whether I pursue a policy with Blue Cross

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