Highlights of the legislative and industry updates in 2008





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Federal and provincial legislation and changes to provincial health plans can have a considerable impact on group benefits plans. Here’s a recap of some of the changes that took place in 2008.


Note:we have already communicated many of these issues in previous Focus Updates. Where possible below, we summarize the issue and provide a link to the original communication.


Alberta eliminates health insurance premiums

As promised in their 2008 budget, Alberta eliminated health insurance premiums effective January 1, 2009. This represents a saving of $528 a year for single people and $1,126 for families. Employers must continue to notify Alberta Health and Wellness of commencements, terminations and other employee changes. You can find full details on the Alberta Health and Wellness website.

New Children’s Drug Plan and changes to Seniors’ Drug Plan in Saskatchewan

On July 1, 2008 the government of Saskatchewan launched a prescription drug plan for children. The plan ensures families pay only $15 per prescription
(for children age 14 and under) for drugs listed on the Saskatchewan Formulary or approved under ‘Exception Drug Status’. Saskatchewan also introduced an income-based eligibility requirement to their Seniors’ Drug Plan. Seniors accepted to the program pay up to $15 per prescription for drugs listed on the Saskatchewan Formulary or approved under ‘Exception Drug Status’. In Focus Update #142, we told you that you could expect a small positive impact to your claim costs as a result of a decrease in costs for children. If you provide coverage for individuals age 65 and older, there might be a slight increase in claim costs for plan members that don’t qualify for the government plan.

Quebec amends basic drug plan

Last year, changes were made to the drug plan administered by the Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec (RAMQ). We told you about the amendments in Focus Update #144. The changes include:

  • Increase in annual out-of-pocket maximum to $927 from $904
  • Reduction in co-insurance (amount RAMQ pays) to 69% from 70%.

Nova Scotia announced new provincial drug plan

On March 1, 2008, Nova Scotia implemented the Nova Scotia Family Pharmacare Program, a provincial drug plan designed to help with the cost of prescription drugs. Family Pharmacare is the ‘payer of last resort’, which means it pays last. However, Nova Scotians with private drug coverage can still enrol in the program. The private plan pays first, and then plan members can submit any unpaid amounts to Family Pharmacare. Check out Focus Update #128 for more information.


Please contact your Sun Life Financial group representative.