Rx Costs Largest Portion of Canadian Employer Health Costs

June 18, 2009 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - In Canada, costs for pharmaceuticals in 2009 have increased by 15.19%, dramatically reversing a four-year downward trend in prescription drug prices, according to survey findings by Buck Consultants, an ACS company.

A press release said prescription drug costs still represent the largest portion of Canadian employer health care costs. “Medications for the treatment of cancer, depression, rheumatoid arthritis and cardiovascular conditions in an aging workforce are the main contributing factors to this upswing,” said Michele Bossi, practice leader in Buck’s Health and Productivity consulting practice, in the press release.

The overall health care trend (including prescription drugs, medical plans, hospital coverage, and dental care) continues to increase at just under 15%, up from 13.76% in 2008. The cost increase for medical plans (excluding prescription drugs) has climbed to 14.14% for 2009 from 13.09% in 2008.

The survey found many employers, having already implemented plan design changes to curb cost trends, are beginning to shift to a proactive approach to health care cost containment. “Wellness programs continue to gain momentum as a way not only to control costs, but to reduce absenteeism, increase productivity, and improve employee engagement,” Bossi said in the announcement.

The 2009 Canadian Health Care Trend Survey, the firm’s ninth annual study, analyzed responses from 11 major Canadian insurers.

The complete survey report will be available at www.bucksurveys.com .