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  • 7 ways your clients can communicate benefits better | Small Biz Advisor
    versus annually Not everyone uses them right away so regular reminders could help employees become more familiar 2 Seminars Educational seminars are another way of making people aware of what is available Kotsopoulos team offers regular seminars to its clients Generally when we are starting with a new group plan we run a seminar to explain the core benefits Some clients like us to come in once a year and do an educational seminar 3 Promote carrier technology Make sure employees have access to and information about member websites or any cell phone apps that could make claims easy Regularly inform them of any updates Employers get this information from their carriers but many are not mindful of passing it on Hill says But keeping them informed is an effective way to make employees better engaged with their benefits 4 Reminders about annual claim filing deadlines for core and HCSA plan If you want employees to make use of the plan the more reminders you give them on different things the better Hills says 5 Employee assistance program The employee assistance program is another add on you can have on your plan Kotsopoulos says That essentially is a phone number

    Original URL path: http://www.smallbizadvisor.ca/group-benefits/7-ways-your-clients-can-communicate-benefits-better-4173?Print (2016-04-26)
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  • Easy ways to boost employee benefit enrollment | Small Biz Advisor
    percentage cost prohibitive especially single parents with no alternative coverage options These employees may opt out of the benefits based on cost he adds In such cases employers could consider plans with different rates for different classes You need to analyze what suits your situation best a one size fits all approach a single family flat rate or a per employee rate says Hill In other words it s important to really get a pulse on the employees says Stephanie Kotsopoulos group benefits specialist at Basis Wealth and Basis Benefits A lot of times when we set up benefits plans we really look to the philosophy of how the employer wants the business to be run whether it s focusing on benefits as a key component of compensation or to provide for families and offer flexibility in that It s important to note in most cases small group benefit plans are set up with the default 100 participation requirement Some carriers may allow non mandatory participation but if the advisor doesn t set it up that way the contract usually defaults to a 100 participation Hill says So if you don t want to force single parents without an alternate spousal plan for example to pay the premiums it s important to opt for non mandatory participation 3 Enable While it s not the employer s responsibility to analyze everyone s spousal plans letting them know the pros and cons of enrolling in one or both plans can help them make an informed decision Explain to them this is our plan this is what it costs this is what it covers And encourage them to talk to their spouse review their plan determine their family s needs and expectations throughout the year and determine whether they re better off with

    Original URL path: http://www.smallbizadvisor.ca/group-benefits/easy-ways-to-boost-employee-benefit-enrollment-4172?Print (2016-04-26)
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  • Employers expect rate of increase in healthcare costs to stay low | Small Biz Advisor
    annual Towers Watson National Business Group on Health NBGH Best Practices in Health Care Employer Survey also point to a growing affordability challenge for employees especially for lower wage workers Healthcare costs for 2015 are expected to average 12 041 per employee up from 11 567 in 2014 On average employees will pay 22 2 of total premium costs in 2015 which in payroll deductions translates into an average employee contribution of 2 676 or 223 a month Against the backdrop of sluggish economic growth and low inflation employers continue to aggressively manage their health benefit plans to rein in costs says Randall K Abbott a North American leader and senior strategist in Towers Watson s health and group benefits practice By and large employers have done a good job managing costs in recent years he adds Despite this success the Affordable Care Act s excise tax looms ahead in 2018 and four out of five employers now identify changes to health and pharmacy plan designs as their most important strategic priority Employer actions taken and planned include curbing the high cost of specialty pharmacy through new coverage utilization restrictions 53 of employers have done so already another 32 are likely to by 2018 adopting spousal surcharges 27 of employers have implemented could rise to nearly 60 in three years using a defined contribution strategy instead of defined benefit 20 today expected to double by 2018 and offering more customization by adding voluntary benefits 34 today could reach 70 by 2018 While we have experienced several years of slower growth in health care trend health care cost increases are still multiples of CPI says Brian Marcotte president and CEO of the NBGH Employers are trying to balance offering valuable benefits that meet employees needs with the looming excise tax which

    Original URL path: http://www.smallbizadvisor.ca/group-benefits/employers-expect-rate-of-increase-in-healthcare-costs-to-stay-low-3949 (2016-04-26)
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  • Specialty drug costs on the rise | Small Biz Advisor
    costs and these drugs are expected to represent 35 of costs in the next five years The increasing prevalence of these drugs has resulted in upward pressure on the cost of stop loss insurance from virtually all insurers We can examine three different examples of specialty drugs and their impact on private plans Hepatitis C therapies Several new treatments for the Hepatitis C virus HCV have become available in Canada recently including Harvoni Sovaldi Galexos and Holkira Pak While in most cases these new therapies result in a cure they typically cost tens of thousands of dollars per patient For example Harvoni is priced at approximately 70 000 per 12 week treatment Morneau Shepell s research shows that this single disease category will impact drug trend in Canada by around 2 in 2015 With more than 200 000 Canadians living with HCV private plans have experienced significant claims for these drugs since their introduction We anticipate that Hepatitis C will be in the top 10 diseases that generate the most drug cost in 2015 and 2016 Recently most provinces have approved coverage for these new drugs through public pharmacare programs and this should reduce the cost pressure on private plans Current approvals for each drug are as follows according to Express Scripts Canada Sovaldi approved in eight provinces including seven effective in 2015 Harvoni approved in eight provinces all effective in 2015 Galexos approved in eight provinces including two effective in 2015 Holkira Pak approved in five provinces all effective in 2015 In nearly all cases these drugs have been approved through each province s special access program which allows provincial funding for drugs not covered under the regular drug formulary based on certain criteria Plan sponsors should ensure that their benefit plan requires coordination with provincial programs so that

    Original URL path: http://www.smallbizadvisor.ca/group-benefits/specialty-drug-costs-on-rise-3930 (2016-04-26)
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  • The link between lifestyle and mental health | Small Biz Advisor
    addressing mental health in your organization need not be about starting from scratch Many organizations already have physical health programs in place and the healthy lifestyles changes that such programs promote can also be very important to supporting the mental health of your employees Improve lifestyle improve mental health It s well proven that poor mental health can negatively impact our physical health For example excess stress has been shown to contribute to chronic physical illness high blood pressure hardening of the arteries obesity and diabetes according to the March 2011 Harvard Mental Health Letter Harvard Medical School What we need to emphasize more is that the opposite is also true and that positive lifestyle changes in the physical and social realms have been proven to be strong supports of good mental health Traditional therapies such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy CBT and drug therapies remain important treatments for mental health issues But on their own or together they may not always provide a complete solution to mental health problems Enter lifestyle into the equation Certain lifestyle changes have been proven to have a significant and positive impact on mental health with some studies even showing them to be comparable to traditional therapies in some cases such as the one by Roger Walsh published in the March 2011 issue of American Psychologist Making lifestyle changes can even help some people avoid having to go down the path of psychotherapy or drug treatment altogether When therapy and medications are an essential component of the treatment plan lifestyle changes can often support overall progress towards achieving good mental health With the biggest barriers to lifestyle change for many Canadians being time money and motivation according to the Sun Life s 2012 Canadian Health Index the workplace is ideally positioned to kick start and

    Original URL path: http://www.smallbizadvisor.ca/group-benefits/the-link-between-lifestyle-and-mental-health-3911 (2016-04-26)
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  • Wellness to weather the business storm | Small Biz Advisor
    times people reach for simple sugars and fast fats foods which in the short term leave them lethargic and less able to mentally focus Over the long term these foods can lead to a variety of health problems including increased risk of heart disease Type II Diabetes and many types of cancers Helping employees to plan for good nutrition will increase their energy and enhance their cognitive ability in the short term and decrease their risk of disease in the long term 2 Low energy makes it tempting to sit more and move less which in turn results in even lower energy Coaching employees to plan for regular cardiovascular exercise not only enables them to restore hormonal balance and improve their mood but by increasing their aerobic capacity they will automatically see an increase in their energy levels Encouraging them to sit less and move more throughout their day will also improve their ability to focus on tasks at hand 3 High work demand job uncertainty on going change and other stressful work environments can leave employees feeling powerless Giving employees the resources to develop strong coping skills will enable them to deal with both work and personal stressors in

    Original URL path: http://www.smallbizadvisor.ca/group-benefits/wellness-to-weather-the-business-storm-3904 (2016-04-26)
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  • Ways clients can introduce wellness programs | Small Biz Advisor
    sessions can feature experienced employees sharing their expertise both professional and personal with the rest of the team Or your employees may appreciate organized pilates or yoga classes or informal walks during lunch says Lisa Kay president of Peak Performance Human Resources in Toronto Health based competitions like weight loss challenges can be effective if they re motivating and fun Again it s about leveraging team spirit to engage everyone to respond together Kay uses education to motivate employees to take preventative measures She says preventative measures are the number one way to reduce benefit costs For example educating employees about the benefits of the flu shot and setting up a clinic on site could be ideal for some businesses Other ideas Offering time off for annual medical check ups Encouraging the use of benefits for preventative health services such as regular dental check ups and Performing professional ergonomic assessments of workstations to prevent chronic problems MacDonald suggests small businesses make use of social media and blogs to keep abreast of health information services and programs Suggest that your small business clients follow CAMH the Canadian Cancer Society or employment standards on Twitter And find out what health information or

    Original URL path: http://www.smallbizadvisor.ca/group-benefits/ways-clients-can-introduce-wellness-programs-3892 (2016-04-26)
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  • Bring up wellness during HR policy drafting with SMEs | Small Biz Advisor
    act on health because it s a core part of corporate culture which can attract and retain employees Be mindful that it s not always about where the next revenue dollar is coming from or cutting expenses Retaining employees for small business is critical because employees gain lots of knowledge and expertise about the company and you don t want to lose them To reinforce the link between health and engagement he provides his small business clients with employee survey results from broad based data sources such as Towers Watson or Corporate Leadership Council And with online tools like SurveyMonkey clients can easily conduct their own employee survey on wellness in the workplace and then analyze and respond to the results Lisa Kay president of Peak Performance Human Resources in Toronto says Wellness has come up for me with a number of clients already It is a priority and becoming more so as the population continues to age and people remain in the workforce for longer Policy matters Kay says the topic of wellness can be brought up with clients when helping them develop their human resources policies Often establishing sound policies is something small businesses haven t taken the

    Original URL path: http://www.smallbizadvisor.ca/group-benefits/bring-up-wellness-during-hr-policy-drafting-with-smes-3883 (2016-04-26)
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