Pharmacy FAQs – Member Services
Why is ARTA opening a pharmacy?
- ARTA leadership has identified that a plan sponsored pharmacy (ARTARx) would support key strategic priorities identified in ARTA membership surveys.
- Revenue from the pharmacy would improve overall value of ARTA benefit plans.
- Through the pharmacy, ARTA can offer preferred pricing on over-the-counter medications, vitamins, supplements, and home health care products.
- Alberta pharmacists have the broadest scope of practice in Canada. Pharmacists are key healthcare professionals that support our members’ management of their chronic health conditions. Pharmacists will be able to:
- Contribute to ARTA’s Health and Wellness programming.
- Perform clinical services like medication assessments, care plan development, immunization services, travel health clinics.
- Assist members with medication coverage requirements, special authorization, step therapy, etc.
Why is ARTARx only offered to Alberta?
ARTARx will be licensed as a community pharmacy, with mail-order capabilities with the Alberta College of Pharmacy (ACP). The ACP is the regulatory body for pharmacy in Alberta, our license limits the provision of pharmacy services to residents of Alberta only. ARTA is considering future expansion to other provinces.
Who owns ARTARx?
ARTARx has one shareholder, ARTA. With this ownership model, all income generated from ARTARx becomes additional revenue for the ARTA organization. This income will offset the rising cost of health coverage, as well as improve benefit offerings and plan sustainability.
Who will operate ARTARx?
The pharmacy will be led by Daniel Mulloy, the CEO of ARTA. Support will be provided by ARTA’s Director of Pharmacy Services – Yatin Patel. The license will be held by the pharmacy manager, Darren Tardif.
When will ARTARx be available?
The pharmacy is currently in development, and we hope to have the pharmacy operating in early 2022.
Where will ARTARx be located?
- ARTARx’s pharmacy will be in the ARTA head office space in Edmonton, located at 15505 – 137 Avenue.
- This location was chosen as approximately 40% of ARTA prescription claims are from the Greater Edmonton Area.
- The reach of the pharmacy will be expanded with ARTA’s mail order capabilities, allowing ARTARx to provide products and services to most Alberta residences.
- In addition to in-person visits, ARTARx will use phone and secure virtual platforms to conduct patient care.
What are the advantages of ARTARx to members?
- The ARTARx plan offers a more generous benefits coverage, and the pharmacy will provide more targeted clinical support to ARTA members. ARTARx pharmacists will be better able to discuss coverage options with plan members, as well as monitor and assist with members’ healthcare goals.
- Profits from the pharmacy are directly injected back into the health plan. This would be used to offset premiums and increase other coverage options.
- Compliance pouch packaging to help organize your medications, vitamins, and supplements.
- When administering injectable products and vaccinations on-site at the ARTARx pharmacy, injection fees can be waived.
e.g. Shringrix, Hepatitis vaccines
- Preferred pricing on over-the-counter (OTC) medications, vitamins, supplements, and home healthcare products.
- Special pricing and health programming for diabetes testing supplies, including education and assistance from regulated pharmacy staff.
- Home delivery of medications in most of Alberta.
- Some restrictions apply to narcotic and temperature-controlled products.
How do I register for ARTARx?
- You can currently sign up for the ARTARx benefit plan through the ARTA website, or by contacting member services.
- Members that sign up for the ARTARx plan will have their information shared with the ARTARx pharmacy to create a customer record. This will include your name, date of birth, home address, and telephone number. Some additional information will be requested by the pharmacy staff when preparing your prescriptions.
How do I get my prescriptions to ARTARx?
- For our local members, they can drop off prescriptions at the pharmacy.
- For our members that can’t physically drop prescriptions off, we have other options:
- A new prescription from your doctor can be sent directly from the physician’s office to ARTARx by fax. You could instead mail the hard copy to the ARTARx pharmacy, but this will take extra time.
- You can transfer your existing prescriptions (with refills) from your current pharmacy.
- ARTARx is unable to accept photographed, scanned, or emailed copies of prescriptions. These do not fall under the approved prescription hard-copy regulations set forth by ACP. If you find yourself in possession of a prescription hard copy and are having trouble finding a way to get this information to ARTARx, please contact us and we can assist in finding a solution.
- Once the pharmacy has been approved to provide pharmacy services (expected in early 2022), the ARTARx landing page on ARTA.net will have two functional buttons beside the existing Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) button:
- Transfer Prescriptions button. New prescriptions can be transferred from your existing pharmacy. By completing the information on the form, a task will be created for the pharmacy staff to contact your existing pharmacy to transfer the prescriptions to ARTARx.
- Refill Request button. Members with established prescriptions (previously transferred or sent directly from the physician) can use this button to request refills from the pharmacy.
- Some restrictions apply — like narcotic prescriptions, which cannot be transferred under pharmacy regulations.
- ARTARx is also developing a mobile app for your phone with similar functionality. Once complete, members will be able to transfer and request refills on a mobile phone.
What if I have a triplicate prescription?
- If the triplicate is for an acute (short-term) medication, it would be easiest to drop off the prescription at ARTARx directly.
- If you cannot visit the ARTARx pharmacy, you can also fill this medication at your local pharmacy with the same coverage levels.
- If your triplicate is for chronic-use medication, it would be best to have the physician fax the triplicate directly to ARTARx. This will ensure it reaches the pharmacy within the 72-hour time window.
How do I get my prescriptions from ARTARx?
- When your prescriptions are ready, you will have the option to pick up in-person or receive them by local delivery or by Canada Post, depending on location. Some conditions/restrictions will apply.
- ARTARx pharmacy team can provide medication synchronization services – assisting members to have their maintenance medications all filled at the same time. Medication synchronization can also be done with a spouse or partner, allowing both members to receive their medications together.
- The medication synchronization process can take a couple of refills to line up completely – please ask the ARTARx staff for more information.
How long will it take to get my delivery?
- Delivery timing will depend on location. For Edmonton and area deliveries, most orders can be processed and sent in 1-2 business days, depending on the complexity of the order.
- For Calgary and its surrounding areas, 2-3 business days would be sufficient for most deliveries.
- For rural areas, orders may take as long as 3-5 business days to arrive
I’m worried about running out of my medications. How will ARTARx assist me?
- ARTARx pharmacy staff will be working with our patients to create regular intervals when refills would be due. We will have a workflow that anticipates the need for your refills in advance by a few weeks. We will contact you and ensure no changes to your medications have been made and schedule a delivery date for your medications in advance so that you do not run out of your long-term use medications.
- Reminder pouches can be added to unit dose packaging to remind members to contact the pharmacy for refills, whether through phone, website, or mobile app.
What if I run out of refills for my medications?
- ARTARx pharmacists will have the ability to renew maintenance medication prescriptions.
- In the case that your medications are out of refills, a pharmacist can perform an assessment to ensure the medication is indicated, safe, and effective, and then write a prescription for you to continue treatment.
- Pharmacy staff can also contact your doctor for refills of your medications via fax, provided your doctor’s office permits fax renewals.
How much of my medications can I get at once? Am I limited to just one month’s supply?
- ARTARx can supply your medications in a quantity that fits your needs and is therapeutically appropriate.
- For most maintenance medications, a three-month supply can be given out each time.
- If you have new medications, or possible changes to your medication regimen, a one-month supply may be more appropriate until the dose is stabilized.
- If your doctor has prescribed weekly or daily dosing of maintenance medications, please contact a member of the ARTARx pharmacy to work out a strategy that is convenient and appropriate.
I am concerned about the environmental impact of getting my medications shipped in unit-dose pouches. What can you tell me about this?
- ARTARx is partnering with noissue to bring deliveries to your door with minimal ecological impact. Our packing tissue is acid-free and 100% biodegradable. Delivery boxes are 100% recyclable and compostable.
- PACMED packaging is made from a combination of two recyclable materials*.
- To compare, one 30-dram vial with cap is 20.4g of plastic. Thirty-one of ARTARx’s PACMED unit-dose pouches are only 13.6g of plastic*.
*Data from McKesson, supplier of PACMED and associated packaging
What happens if I want to travel? Am I still eligible for a travel supply of medication through ARTARx?
The ARTARx plans cover larger quantities of medications for travel, just like other ARTA plans. You can request the pharmacy staff submit coverage for a vacation supply of your medication before you leave. You can ask an ARTA member services agent for further clarification.
Do I have to use ARTARx Pharmacy?
- ARTARx will not be mandatory for ARTA members. Due to provincial regulations, ARTARx services will not be available to members residing outside of Alberta.
- ARTA members not wanting to use ARTARx will have the choice to select another ARTA coverage plan (Total Health, Ultimate Health, etc). Coverage will be provided as before, with no interruptions.
- ARTARx plan members will be encouraged to use the pharmacy for chronic use medications (blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol, etc.) with increased coverage levels (100%). This coverage is reduced to 50% for any chronic use prescriptions filled by another pharmacy.
- Some exceptions are for temperature-controlled products like insulin, as well as narcotics and emergency access medications.
- Drugs used for short or limited periods (antibiotics, some pain relief products) will continue to be covered at 80% regardless of where they are filled.
What happens if I need my chronic medications in an emergency situation?
The priority of ARTARx is to provide members with chronic health condition support. In the case of extenuating circumstances, the emergency release of chronic-use medication can be provided at a local pharmacy with the same coverage level as other ARTA health plans. Our partners at Green Shield Canada will support local pharmacies with how to submit claims in this situation.
Where is the ARTA chronic medications list?
This list is currently being developed and will be released to ARTA members when completed.
Can I use the pharmacy without changing my benefit plan?
Yes, the pharmacy is available to all Albertans. The ARTARx plan comes with the added benefit of increased coverage for chronic medications when filled by ARTARx, but the plan isn’t required to use the pharmacy.
Can I sign up to ARTARx benefit plan without changing pharmacies?
- Yes, however, the ARTARx plan coverage for certain chronic conditions medications may be less (50%) if filled at another pharmacy.
- The chronic drug list will identify which medications will have reduced coverage at other pharmacies.
- Acute (immediate) care medications like antibiotics and rescue inhalers will continue to be covered at 80% at other pharmacies, similar to other ARTA plans.
Are there any limitations of the ARTARx pharmacy?
- ARTARx’s focus will be assisting with chronic health condition management. Depending on your circumstances, ARTARx may not be the most convenient or appropriate for managing short term conditions like bacterial infections requiring immediate antibiotics.
- Treatment for these acute care conditions will have the same coverage at ARTARx or at your local pharmacy.
- Delivery of temperature-controlled products and controlled/narcotic products may be unavailable in remote locations. In these situations, patients will be able to access their temperature-controlled and controlled/narcotic prescriptions from their local pharmacy, without reduced coverage. ARTARx will notify you if your location falls under these exemptions.
Can I get over-the-counter (OTC) medications, vitamins, and supplements? Will they be covered by the ARTARx plan?
- These products will be available from ARTARx and can be delivered with your prescription medication or included in compliance pouch packaging.
- ARTARx will carry a limited supply of non-prescription products including cough-and-cold medications, eye drops, foot care products, etc. While our focus will be on chronic health management, we also want visitors to our pharmacy to have these items conveniently available.
- As these products are subject to tax, they remain ineligible under ARTA coverage. Under Canada Revenue Agency rules, in order for ARTA to maintain its tax status as a Private Health Benefit Plan, the majority of benefits paid must be eligible under the CRA medically-exempt tax credit list.
What about diabetic supplies?
ARTARx will offer coverage for diabetic supplies including strips, lancets, pen needles, blood glucose meters, and most other supplies. These will have the same criteria for coverage as other ARTA plans.
I need Colyte/Peglyte/Bi-Peglyte for my colonoscopy bowel prep routine. Can I get this from ARTARx?
- ARTARx will stock these medications regularly, and they can be dispensed out to patients like any other OTC medications.
- Our pharmacists can also assist with preparation and advice.
- These products are exempt from benefits coverage, as they are taxable goods like other OTC medications.
Can I get my compounded products from ARTARx?
- Yes, ARTARx will be working with a local compounding laboratory to provide high-quality compounded medications. Compound eligibility will follow ARTA’s current policies.
- The ARTARx plan will continue to cover eligible compounds filled at your current pharmacy, should you choose to get these products there instead.
My doctor has prescribed me a name brand medication. Will I be able to get this medication at ARTARx?
- ARTARx will have access to many name brand medications through our regular supplier.
- Brand medications are subject to something called ‘least cost alternative’ (LCA) pricing. This means if you fill 100 capsules of brand name medication, the plan pays for the equivalent cost of 100 capsules of the generic, and passes the remaining cost onto you. This can be quite expensive to the patient.
- Certain brand name medications have coverage assistance programs in place to help pay for the additional cost incurred by patients. These are at the discretion of the manufacturer, and subject to their terms and conditions.
- ARTARx encourages members to discuss the benefits of generic medications with pharmacy staff.
How are vaccinations covered by ARTARx?
- Product costs will be reimbursed at 100% when dispensed by ARTARx and 80% when dispensed outside of ARTARx.
- No administration fees are charged by ARTARx pharmacy.
- Professional service fees for vaccine administration outside of ARTARx will set by the pharmacy providing those services.
Will my regular pharmacy be able to administer a vaccine that I’ve had delivered from ARTARx?
- Most pharmacies have a policy where they cannot administer vaccinations or injectable medications that were not dispensed at that location. The concern is the stability and sterility of the product.
- Before ordering any vaccines or injectable products for delivery, ensure you contact your local pharmacy to check their policies on injectable products.
- For injectable products, you may have to pick them up at your regular pharmacy to be eligible for injection services there.
My medication currently requires special authorization approval, will this be necessary if I use ARTARx?
- Medications that require special authorization under ARTA coverage will still require special authorization with ARTARx plans. If you have concerns about the special authorization process, ARTARx staff can help.
- If you are switching from an ARTA plan to the ARTARx plan, your current special authorizations should carry over automatically.
How will ARTARx source their medications so that there is a guarantee that they are quality drugs?
ARTARx is sourcing products from pharmaceutical partners that adhere to the strict regulatory guidelines set by Health Canada. In Canada, the import of raw materials and the manufacturing of medicinal products from them are subject to very strict regulations. Drug manufacturing is regulated by Health Canada under the federal Food and Drugs Act and the Food and Drug Regulations. These regulations ensure that any drug products manufactured and sold in Canada are safe, effective, and of high quality. Additionally, manufacturers must comply with Division 2 of Canada’s Good Manufacturing Processes (GMP). The GMP is an extensive document outlining the standards that drug manufacturers need to meet when making any medications. With these regulations in place federally, we can be confident in the quality of medications we order from our distributor.