Do Your Health Benefits Meet The Diverse And Evolving Needs Of Your Employees?

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Many of the values and pressures that have shaped the evolution of your employment-based health benefits — recruitment, retention, managing absenteeism and your budget — should be factored in when you evaluate them. Are they meeting your current work group’s needs?

There are many forces that have led Canadians to expect more medical care and protection against its rising cost including

  • an ever-accelerating pace of scientific and technological discovery that has offered new relief from pain and suffering and heightened expectations about the value of new medical technologies, products, and practices
  • a century’s worth of professional and institutional development in health care that has made possible the delivery of biomedicine’s new achievements and
  • an increase in medical care costs that has been fuelled both by economic growth and by advances in clinical capabilities.

Health insurance coverage increases financial access to these advances and much more. Today, benefits plans are becoming more personalized to ensure they meet the diverse and evolving needs of all employees so they can address their health challenges and stay on the job.

Health benefits plans have risen in stature

At this critical juncture for health care and the labour market, your health insurance offering must prove its worth as an essential tool to support your business and employees. Many people have found their voice and are more opinionated about how they’re treated, whether within the health-care system or the work environment and how it supports them.

Here are the three key features that employees are seeking loudly and clearly

Virtual services

Utilization of virtual care (by phone or computer) from a health-care provider has risen dramatically, with almost half of individuals aged 18 to 34 depending on this care. Why? Both for personal and family needs, virtual care helps eliminate delays, relieve emotional distress, and enables those with stretched homelife and work schedules to address health issues. Virtual services are included with many health insurance plans and enable consultations whenever and wherever your employees need them, including:

  • Screening and assessments to detect potential health disorders or diseases
  • New prescriptions or existing prescription refills
  • Referrals for testing and diagnostic services, like blood work or specialist visits for further investigation
  • text and video conversations to answer health questions.

Chronic condition management

Due to the nature of chronic condition symptoms, employees struggle with goals to increase physical activity and stay present at work. As medications improve, more employees depend on prescription drug treatment for hypertension (a.k.a. high blood pressure), diabetes and asthma.

When it comes to improving their overall well-being, employees are considering the advantages of physical therapies. Naturopathic doctors, Swedish and shiatsu massage performed by registered therapists and eastern-based acupuncture are just some of the options individuals choose to release muscle tension and improve overall physical function. These services are not covered by government health plans, and they will be charged a fee, which may be partly covered by your health insurance. Like coverage for other registered therapists, the dollar amount covered per visit and the annual combined maximum benefit will be set in your health insurance plan – but employees may need more.

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Emotional and mental health

Battling a wide range of concerns like anxiety, depression, or panic disorders, caused by anything from a life changing event to chronic pain, insomnia or dealing with a chronic health issue, employees are seeking mental health support more than ever before. Their emotional wellbeing can have a strong effect on how they feel physically and may even interfere with their work life.

Expenses for marriage and family therapy, or addiction counselling can really add up if employees or their family members need them. Psychologists, counsellors, and other therapists (occupational, psychotherapy, etc.) provide therapy, and your health insurance can help pay for those costs. Visits for counselling provided by a psychologist or social worker can help an employee think about their problems differently and give them ways to manage — and the fees charged can be covered under the health insurance you provide, up to a plan maximum covered per year.

Supplemental health insurance can help meet evolving employee expectations

There are different approaches you can take to ensure your health insurance plan offerings meet evolving employee expectations

Provide a small group health plan

If you don’t have health insurance for your employee group of less than 10, you can avoid going through a complicated quote process with SBIS and GMS Group Advantage for cost-effective small group health insurance with premium rate stability you can count on. All employees actively at work at least 20 hours a week participate, coverage guaranteed with no medical questions. Your employees can access the built-in Employee Family Assistance Program (EFAP) for support networks, life coaching and professional counselling services.

Fund each employee’s individual health plan through the business.

Not only can you pay for health coverage for full time employees but can choose to offer a health plan to part time or seasonal workers you need. Offering individual health insurance gives each employee flexibility in finding a plan that best suits their situation from the wide range we offer at SBIS.

Connect employees to individual health insurance options they fund

If your group plan is too costly, you can consider reducing the basic benefits provided to reduce your business expense and distribute a portion of the funds you save to employees so they can make their own supplemental health plan choices. This option can be a cost-effective way to provide enhanced and unique support that makes your compensation package stand out from the competition. Employees will be able to choose the health insurance benefits they think they will need. That is flexibility they will appreciate.

Choosing supplemental individual health insurance on their own may be overwhelming (and avoided) by your employees. Help them by raising awareness of the benefits of health insurance and connecting to a trusted provider – SBIS – where they can get free expert advice, discover resources that educate them on features and plans and have the convenience of on-line quotes and apply to best in class products.

Key takeaway: take steps to evolve your health insurance to offer more

SBIS helps employers take full advantage of the silver lining of change to meet evolving needs. We specialize in helping small business owners make the best possible decisions on what individual or small group health insurance plan will work best for your employees. Call us at 1-800-667-0429 Monday to Friday, 8:45 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. ET or go online to discover small business health insurance options for yourself.


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