Alberta study offers free medication for low-income seniors

Click to play video: 'Alberta study offers free medication for low-income seniors' Alberta study offers free medication for low-income seniors
WATCH ABOVE: If you’re a senior on a fixed income, Calgary researchers want to pay for your medication. As Heather Yourex-West reports, researchers are hoping to see if paying for the drugs pays off for the health system – Apr 5, 2016

CALGARY – Researchers at the University of Calgary are looking to recruit 5,000 low-income seniors for a study on managing chronic disease.

“We wanted to get a sense of how well patients with chronic diseases are being managed because in fact, across Canada, we spend about $90 billion a year caring for patients with chronic disease,” said Dr. Braden Manns, a researcher with the University of Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine.

Manns says up to 30 per cent of low-income seniors report not regularly taking preventive medicines for conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes because of financial barriers.

In Alberta, Blue Cross provides 70 per cent drug coverage for seniors, but according to Manns, the 30 per cent co-pay adds up.

“Often times people are taking six to 10 medications and what we understand is that the average out-of-pocket cost per year is in the range of $300.”

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Calgary senior Yilmaz Saydam has diabetes and heart disease. He takes seven medications every day in order to stay healthy and out of the hospital.

The randomized control trial called ACCESS is looking to recruit 5,000 seniors who are:

  • Over the age of 65;
  • Live in Alberta;
  • Have an annual household income of less than $50,000;
  • Have a high risk of a cardiovascular event based on having ONE of the following:
    • Previous heart attack or stroke, chronic kidney disease, heart failure OR
  • Any TWO of the following:
    • Diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, current cigarette smoking (greater than half a pack a day).

Fifty per cent of study participants will receive full coverage on all preventative medications related to their chronic diseases for three years.

For more information, interested seniors can call the ACCESS study team at 1-844-944-8927 or email

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