Advisors: Dispensing fees killing plans

by Nicolas Heffernan08 Apr 2015
Advisors are now engaging clients in difficult conversations about dispensing fees and their increasingly negative impact on benefit plans.

But sometimes it’s easier said than done.

Ken MacCoy, an advisor in Chilliwack, found that out the hard way when a client him to find out why her rates had gone up.

“So I politely tried to explain to her, Shoppers Drug Mart has one of the highest dispensing fees,” said MacCoy, Life, Disability & Employee Benefits Specialist at RitePartner Financial Services & MGA: Edge Benefits Inc. “If you had gone to Costco it would have cost a fraction.”

There’s a huge difference in dispensing fees charged by the major pharmacies in Canada. Shoppers Drug Mart and Rexall are the most expensive, charging $11.99; Loblaw’s Pharmacy is next at $10.49; Costco is by far the cheapest at $3.89.

He also recommended advisors warn clients off of going back to their pharmacist every month.

“Every month you’re paying a dispensing fee. Go and get it a six month supply or however much you can get because then you’re going to save money,” he said.

Unfortunately, that argument sometimes falls on deaf ears.

That same client “says, ‘I really don’t care. It’s not my money,’” MacCoy said. “Yeah but by you not caring it’s causing their loss ratio to be higher, which causes your premiums to increase. So guess what, you’re the master of your own demise.”

Advisors having these conversations can help consumers make the right decisions. For MacCoy, a lot of his group benefits clients are truck drivers, so he takes a proactive approach.

“A lot of it has to do with educating people,” he said. “It’s virtually impossible to meet all the drivers, so I get all their email addresses and say here’s some points to keep the premiums lower.”