At our annual client conference THINK on November 1, 2023, the Cowan team and industry experts gave updates on hot topics in group benefits today. Tari Duguay, Principal Consultant and Practice Lead, National Benefits Consulting at Cowan Insurance Group, provided an overview of current benefit plan drug spend.
In her presentation, Tari explained the substantial impact of drug spending on a plan sponsor's benefit plan costs, potentially up to half the total program spend. Addressing the challenges posed by inflation and the rising costs of medications, Tari emphasized the importance of implementing sufficient strategies to contain costs, which is imperative to plan design.
Tari talked about the prevalence of diabetes and pre-diabetes, affecting one in four Canadians. She advocated for the support of plan members with diabetes, citing potential reductions in co-morbidities and associated chronic conditions. Ongoing analysis of the impact of diabetic medications on health costs promises to yield essential insights for informed decision-making.
Shifting the focus from reactive to preventative measures, Tari advocated for a wellness-centric approach when cultivating a healthier physical and mental employee population to reduce costs and support a more productive workforce in the long term. She suggested initiatives such as virtual physiotherapy programs, incorporating nutritionists and dieticians as part of the paramedical practitioner benefit, and providing employees with wellness accounts for purchasing fitness equipment and classes.
She also highlighted the advent of biosimilars and the provinces' impactful role in leading the charge in biologic switching, which is already yielding significant savings in some provinces. Biosimilars, though not exact copies, present a viable alternative to biologics.
Tari finished her presentation by recognizing that much more is needed in this space, leaving the audience with some food for thought.
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