Top Employee Benefit Companies in Canada
Once a year Benefits Canada releases a report on employee benefits coverage in Canada. These figures represent the top Canadian benefits providers.
Changing demographics, expensive prescription drugs and an increase in chronic diseases at various states have put a strain on group benefits paid for by the employer. Financially strapped companies must focus on remaining competitive in their field and lowering operating costs, while still retaining a competent workforce.
To be a top provider, insurance companies must find a delicate balance between offering the coverage companies want and keeping costs down. They recognize the importance of benefits coverage as a way to attract and retain the best workers, and keeping those workers healthy and productive.
Trends and Challenges Providers Face
Guidance – Plan members are looking for guidance on ways to control the cost of benefits plans. They are willing to forgo traditional cost-sharing strategies and seeking new ways to manage costs. The biggest challenge for employers is the cost of prescription medications and disabilities. They are asking providers to help find ways to cut costs and efficiently measure and manage those costs, while maintaining a good balance between the health of employees and the cost health benefits.
Competitive rates – Employers are shopping for competitive rates and service fees. An increasing number of them are also looking for value-added services, such as technology that delivers claims services by way of mobile devices, member communication and enhanced analytics. However, controlling cost increases is the highest priority. Providers are answering these concerns with more creative drug plan designs, negotiating prices with manufacturers and better management of high-cost claims.
What providers need to do to succeed – Providers need to manage the overall governance of their plans to help keep the major cost drivers under control and ensure members understand the impact they can have to help manage those costs. Plan design options need to be better managed and insurers need to explain how they should be implemented. In many cases, high-costs are due to a lack of education. With better education, providers can help members see how their actions can affect costs and help them understand and care about doing their part to make plans more affordable.
Insurance plans need to focus on healthy living, overall wellness and illness prevention. Today’s employees aren’t interested in the same plans as previous generations. They want active living options, prevention initiatives and health cost allowances. Providers need to match client needs with carrier strengths and maintain strong client relationships with constant communication throughout the year.
New trends providers must deal with – Providers are now facing a huge increase in mental health claims. In the past, mental or emotional problems were not recognized or acknowledged insurable illnesses, therefore, not covered by employer-sponsored benefits. Reports show that 90% of Canadians between the ages of 18 and 24 claim excessive stress levels, which means an increase in absenteeism and greater costs for the company.
Healthcare costs – The cost of healthcare, the introduction of more expensive medications and expensive treatments are serious concerns for benefit providers. And over time this problem will worsen because people are living longer, therefore they will require expensive drugs and treatments for a longer period of time. Biologic drugs will considerably increase the cost of drug plans.
However, there are steps employers can take to reduce the risk of higher benefit costs. For example, they can create a stress-free work environment, encourage healthy lifestyles by offering fitness programs or gym memberships and offer healthy food choices in the cafeteria. A healthy workforce will help reduce healthcare costs and absenteeism and increase productivity.
Tomorrow’s workforce won’t be the same as the today’s, which will greatly affect benefit plan designs, costs and how they are delivered.