The Sanofi Canada Healthcare Survey has been administered since 1997. This year, they interviewed 1,503 plan members and 502 plan sponsors across Canada via an online survey. It is important to keep in mind that benchmarking data should not “wag the dog” in terms of your plan design considerations.
One of the most interesting highlights is that plan members seem to love the flexible elements of their employee benefits programs. Plan members reported that the following met their needs either extremely well or very well and it was reported that:
73% have health spending accounts
72% have wellness programs
66% of the respondents indicated that they are satisfied with their job, 77% have excellent/very good personal health, and 66% have a household income that is over $100,000
There is a link between plan members’ satisfaction with their benefits and the following characteristics:
Those who rate their personal health excellent or very good have a higher level of satisfaction
Those with lower household incomes are more likely to be unsatisfied with their benefits plan
Plan members who are dissatisfied with their jobs are more likely to rate their benefits plan poorly
Are there ways to reassess benefits programs from the perspective of those with greater needs?
Employers are challenged to create sustainable plans while offering adequate coverage for employees who may be experiencing health challenges.
Meanwhile, Canadian employers seem to be underestimating the proportion of their workforce with a chronic medical condition, which is generally a considered an illness or disease that requires treatment for longer than three months.
The survey found that 58% of plan members have been diagnosed with at least one chronic disease or condition, but plan sponsors estimate that only 29% of plan members are affected by a chronic disease.
A key takeaway for plan sponsors here is to evaluate the top disease states present at your workplace through an analysis of claims data. This analysis can help make a connection between investments in drug plans, wellness initiatives, and benefits communication to support employees where it counts.
Providing education around drug assistance programs and provincial drug programs may also provide some relief to plan members with greater needs than their plan covers.
This year’s study also found that 64% of plan members felt that cannabis authorized by a physician should be covered by their plan, but plan sponsors are divided:
34% would like cannabis covered
34% would do not want it covered
32% don’t know or are unsure
A key takeaway here is that while fewer than 10% of plans currently cover medical cannabis under the core extended health care plan, medical cannabis is an eligible medication expense under CRA guidelines and can be claimed through a health care spending account.
Plan sponsors do have the option with a few carriers to cover medical cannabis for specific conditions based on clinical evidence, and we will continue to update clients as to the prevalence of this addition going forward.
Vital Partners is committed to assisting plan sponsors design, communicate, and administer cost effective benefits plans. Please let us know how we can support you into 2019 and beyond.