There’s the beautiful landscapes, a reputation for being home to the world’s most friendly folks, and free healthcare services.

Canada’s public health care covers visits to the family doctor, major operations, and many life-saving treatments. But unfortunately, services such as dental care, eyecare and prescription drug costs are not part of the public plan.

That’s where individual health insurance comes in.

Although insurance companies offer many different types of coverage, the basic idea behind an extended health plan remains the same. You pay a premium, like a membership fee, to receive potential benefits. A deductible is a small expense you pay towards a health service or product, and your insurance plan covers the rest.

According to the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association, about 12 million Canadians don’t have supplemental health coverage. They’re forced to pay out-of-pocket for health-related expenses not covered by their provincial health plan.

And while about 72 per cent of Canadians have their prescription drugs covered through work benefits or public drug programs, 26 per cent pay at least half the cost.

A national pharmacare plan might be the answer (you can be sure it’ll be a hot topic during the upcoming federal election). But until Canada has universal drug coverage, an individual health plan is the best way to budget for drug costs.

Millions of Canadians think the peace of mind that comes with having comprehensive health insurance is worth it.

Sarah Morgan is one of them. She wrote on the Mixed Up Money blog about how important coverage is when life does not go as planned. At age 21, she was diagnosed with a chronic health condition. She had no health insurance. The medication she needed cost about $5,000 every eight weeks. Fortunately, she was under her boyfriend’s plan. But the experience showed, “it’s essential to plan for unanticipated circumstances.”

Each province has special drug programs for groups like seniors, those on social assistance, or people that need costly drugs. But for the many Canadians who don’t qualify for the provincial programs, the struggle is real.

Last year, nearly a quarter of respondents to a national survey said they decided not to fill a prescription or renew one because of the cost. Some didn’t take the recommended dose because they wanted to extend their supply. Canadians’ prescription drug costs - Angus Reid Institute

Obviously, that’s not what the doctor ordered.

And this issue isn’t going away.

More than two-in-five Canadians worry they won’t be able to afford prescription drugs in 10 years. And only 24 per cent feel very confident they will always be able to cover those costs. Canadians’ prescription drug costs - Angus Reid Institute

Finding a plan now, especially if you don’ have health issues, is a wise way to prepare for the future. If you wait until after you’re diagnosed with an illness or condition, you could pay more for coverage. And often times, drugs to treat that illness or condition won’t be covered.

GMS Personal Health plans offer two options for prescription drug coverage, which can be added at any time. The Basic Prescription Drugs option offers up to $3,500 for drugs to treat newly diagnosed conditions. And the Enhanced Prescription Drugs option gives you up to $5,000 coverage. Up to $800 of that can go towards covering medications for pre-existing conditions.

Learn more about GMS Personal Health Plans today!