Health Benefit Insights For Small Business Owners

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For over 20 years, the Sanofi Canada Healthcare Survey has been a trusted survey for insurers and benefit administrators, striving to educate and create action to guide benefit program decision making on the kinds of coverage to provide — typically influencing large and medium-sized employers, associations and union groups.

But Canada is run by small businesses, so here are some important takeaways when your business has chosen to provide individual health insurance. You can use this insight even if your business is run only on your strength as a sole proprietor or consultant.

Your Top Three Insights

The fact is, health insurance benefits are an important part of any employee’s compensation package. Having the right benefits plan can help your business achieve its goals, attract top talent, and maximize productivity. Do you know which benefits matter most to your employees?

Drug Benefits Are Important

The majority (85%) of Canadians with access to health benefit plans used their drug plan at least once in the past year, according to the 2018 survey. They submitted drug claims an average 9.4 times in the year. That figure rose to 10.9 times for individuals with at least one chronic disease and 14.5 claims for employees in poor health and those who take three or more medications.

Individual health insurance plans cover the cost of prescription drugs — and providing this day-to-day cost management support benefit can be vital to keeping your employees happy and healthy.

Is an individual plan worth it? The survey found the amount plan members estimated they paid for drugs and what the plan actually spent on average was out of sync. Plan members estimated their drug plan spent $1,757 on them, and $2,009 on their family. In fact, the average overall combined drug spend for those submitting at least one claim was $2,298.

If your small business has hit the panic button on the cost of your group benefits program and put in a drug benefit maximum, consider purchasing individual health insurance to provide extra coverage for yourself as a business owner.

Dental Benefits Rank Highly

The 2016 survey asked employees how important components of their health plan were, and basic dental coverage ranked at 93%, only second to prescription drug coverage, which ranked at 94%. Major dental care also ranked highly, at 89%.


As a small business owner, you should know that according to the 2017 survey, employees think employers are more concerned with costs than providing the best coverage. That may not be far from the truth.

It’s best to be transparent with employees about how much health benefits cost. If they understand how much money goes into coverage, they are more likely to understand how you are providing the best possible coverage you can afford. This might also translate to employees taking more responsibility for their spending.

If your business does not offer group benefits, providing some or all of the funding for a basic individual health plan delivers flexibility and can go a long way to satisfying employee needs. The 2015 survey asked plan members about their preferences for health coverage, and 91% said they would like the option to choose specific benefits that are best suited for their current personal situation.

Your Employees Need Healthcare Support

Year after year, the survey asks employers to estimate the percentage of their workforce with a chronic condition. In 2018, employers estimated 29%. And what did the employees report? Fifty-eight percent report they have a chronic disease or condition like diabetes or hypertension.

It is important to acknowledge the impact of chronic disease because it affects your business’s productivity. In 2018, 47% of employees with a chronic condition said they missed work or had difficulty performing their job because of it. For those with a mental health condition, the number rose to 72%. The majority of these employees noted that they would like to know more about their condition and how to treat it.

The good news is that health support tools are not just limited to group insurance programs. Most individual health insurance plans include access to online resources that educate and connect people to trusted health information and even deliver access to health professionals with tools like ‘Ask A Pharmacist.’

Putting individual health insurance in place can support your small workforce in more ways than one.

Your Takeaway

Individual health insurance offers so much for so little, and it can be your opportunity to be your employees’ health support hero. Reimbursement for massage therapy is an excellent example. Although medical evidence about its effectiveness at relieving tension in the long term is mixed, employees perceive it as being a helpful tool to reduce and manage their stress. Remember that a lack of medical proof doesn’t necessarily mean a lack of value.

If you’d like to know more about what your own employees think about the importance of health benefits, circulate a survey inviting them to rank their benefits.

As a small business owner you are your employees’ “benefit plan administrator,” so focus on creating a happier, healthier, more relaxed employee workplace (without going overboard on costs) by providing access to health insurance. As your business grows, you can’t afford not to offer employee benefits coverage, because if you don’t, your competitor will.

Work with us as your health benefit partner

We can help you design a solution for your small business (or yourself) that delivers the best for your company and employees alike.

If you’d like to learn more about the Sanofi surveys, go to Each year Sanofi Canada surveys the thoughts and perceptions of both employees and employers across Canada on healthcare, and benefit plans in particular. The survey represents businesses of all sizes. A panel of large employers, consultants, insurers and brokers come together to analyze the results, discuss next steps and provide valuable insights like the ones reported above.


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