As Annual Enrollment Deadline Nears, Study Finds Seniors Better Off Buying Canadian

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Just as the December 31 deadline for annual enrollment approaches, a study of Medicare Part D was released showing that for most seniors it is less expensive to order drugs from a Canadian pharmacy.

Recent changes to the US regulations, due to a rider on the Homeland Security spending bill, now make it legal to do what thousands have been doing for years to keep costs down, order drugs from our northern neighbor.

A licensed Canadian pharmacy, Concord Drugstore, has completed an extensive study of the Part D plan compared to the discounted Canadian prices and found that barring a seriously ill person, spending over $9500 on drugs annually, money is saved in every instance by ordering from Canada. The company has been serving American customers for over three years.

"We can show savings on almost any drug purchased through the average Medicare Part D plan when premiums, co-pays and deductions are taken into account," said Concord president Jon Conquergood. "The savings are sometimes in excess of 80 percent."

The outgoing Congress, who passed the Part D bill, did not include a provision for the government to negotiate discounts that would make drugs more affordable to Americans.

The Part D $2,250 limit, before falling into the "doughnut hole", includes not only the amount paid by Medicare but it also counts the money the plan holder pays out of pocket, something many seniors did not realize because of the confusion experienced in the initial year of the plan and trying to choose between plans that may only cover a portion of needed medications.

The potential saving from Canada for people on multiple medications is even greater because they reach the limit more quickly. "The largest savings that an average patient can expect is $1650 per year by buying from Canada. However, many medications are cheaper than the average, and even greater savings can be achieved," adds Conquergood.

It looks like 2007 will be an even worse year for seniors because of the inflation driven rise in drug prices, higher monthly premiums and the increase in the deductible and "doughnut hole" coverage gap. This year, the point at which Medicare became cheaper than Canada was $8300 in annual drug costs. Conquergood says, "In 2007, that number is $9500. So Medicare Part D continues to get worse, insurance companies and Big Pharm laugh all the way to the bank, and your average senior gets taken to the cleaners."

"For nearly a year, the White House has been punishing seniors for filling their prescriptions at lower Canadian prices," said Senator Bill Nelson (D-Fla), who has been a critic, saying it was an attempt to force people into Part D by making Canadian drugs illegal. As of October, seizure by US Customs has ceased and concentration will be aimed at shipments from overseas of counterfeit drugs by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

A comparison of costs and savings can be made at the An example for Plavix 75 mg compared the $1474 annual retail cost to the $870 average cost through Medicare, with the $332 cost through the Canadian store, resulting in a 62 percent savings.

Seniors have a limited time to choose their drug plans and delays result in a monthly increase in rates. Members of the new Congress have already mentioned needed changes to the program.

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