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Do Your Remote Workers Need Health Insurance? Yes.

Do Your Remote Workers Need Health Insurance? Yes.
According to Statistics Canada, roughly 40% of Canadian jobs can be done from home. The feasibility of working from home varies across industries and regions, but if you discover that some of your remote team members have relocated outside of your province, they may need health insurance coverage more than ever.

If you run a business in the insurance and finance sector or offer professional, scientific, or technical services, you may have adapted to a work-from-home or hybrid work model for your team so they can gain a better work-life balance. Some of your team members may take the opportunity to establish their home office at a significant distance from your head office, especially if your business is located in a large city and their job can be done from home in a smaller, more economical community.

But this advancement in flexible work arrangements can create a challenge for your business as you struggle with addressing provincial taxation differences, workers’ compensation, and providing health benefits originally structured for staffing within short commute distance of your office, but now challenged by long-distance employees living in other provinces. 

Your group insurance may not always be a fit for remote workers

While it is true that no matter what province your employee lives in, as a Canadian they are entitled to basic services, including physician services (e.g., a visit to a walk-in clinic) services provided in a public hospital (e.g., emergency services, diagnostics, laboratory tests). 

Beyond that level of care, each province provides medical services to its own residents, with healthcare services that are and are not covered varying from province to province. For example, chiropractic care that was covered in your business’ home province may not be covered under your remote employee’s new provincial government’s healthcare plan. Or if they need an ambulance during the transition period, the ride may not be covered in their new province.

If your employee is moving permanently to another province, they are expected to enroll in their new province’s healthcare plan when they get there — they will not be considered a permanent resident when you first arrive. In many provinces there is a transition period. For example, you have to live in Ontario for roughly 3 months before you are considered a permanent resident of the province and become eligible for Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) coverage.

Individual health plans work for remote workers

To address hurdles in group benefits design when your staff lives in different provinces, there is a new wave of individual health insurance options to offer. Individual insurance is personally tailored towards the remote worker, digital nomad, and freelancers you depend on.

These health plans offer flexible coverage and online accessibility. Some companies might choose to avoid being directly involved in setting up this supplemental or individual health insurance for a remote worker. It is possible instead to provide a uniform stipend to all of their remote workers that can be spent on health insurance plans themselves. 

Health benefits for remote work can be impactful for all employees when location and individual employee needs are taken into consideration. Individual health and dental insurance plans start where provincial plans stop. Medical equipment and the services of many healthcare service providers are not covered by provincial health insurance plans in Canada including:

  • Prescription drugs 
  • Dental care 
  • Travel insurance 
  • Home support services 
  • Medical equipment 
  • Eye exams, glasses, and contact lenses 
  • Hearing aids 
  • Ambulance transportation 
  • Private and semi-private hospital rooms 
  • Registered therapists like podiatrists/chiropodists, chiropractors, osteopaths, acupuncturists, speech therapists, naturopaths, physiotherapists, massage therapists, and more

The premium can be paid directly by your employee and is based on their province of residence, age, and family status. Or you may choose to pay the premiums for your employees to keep their expenses down. This annual cost of health insurance can be far less than the average health costs not covered by the government, and that works to protect your employee so they can contribute to your business to their fullest.

Remote workers do need the support that health insurance provides

Woman at desk

There are some unique health challenges your remote employees may be facing:

  • about 41% of people working remotely reported lower back pain, 23.5% reported neck pain, and 50% said their neck pain has gotten worse since they started working from home
  • when your workers can no longer regularly see old friends and loved ones and are not only working from home but adapting to ‘living at work’ they may struggle with stress.

It is important that they address these issues with medical attention, because, in the long run, if steps aren’t taken, it will translate into more serious health issues that can impact their ability to work and every aspect of their life.

Transitioning remote workers from your group plan to an individual health insurance plan

There are health and dental plans specifically designed for individuals transitioning out of a group plan that do not require a complete a medical questionnaire at the time of application, so your acceptance is guaranteed. 

You may want to consider connecting employees to business travel insurance too. Many companies ensure that their remote workers purchase additional business travel insurance when they require weekly, monthly, or quarterly trips for face-to-face meetings. Emergency medical travel insurances does not cover routine medical care like health insurance but would cover an emergency while your employee is away from home, including repatriation if necessary.

SBIS has the health insurance options remote workers needs

When it comes to your health or travel insurance needs, we can keep your remote workers connected, wherever they are. At SBIS, we can point your employee in the right direction with access to over 40 individual health and dental plans. We can help your people figure out what coverage they may need, present plans within their budget that fit those needs and assist them in signing up for the new plan.

We make it easy to connect and receive personal support from insurance experts you and your team can trust. During the workweek, you can call SBIS toll-free from anywhere in Canada and connect live to get answers within minutes at 1-800-667-0429 or 416-601-0429. Sometimes the only time you have to deal with your health insurance choices is off-hours, so SBIS online inquiry will let you ask your questions and get your answers, wherever you or your team are, any time of day.

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