Time to update eligibility records for over-age dependents/ full-time students

Students are back to school and now is a good time to review if any over-age dependents are eligible to receive benefits. It is important to be sure information is accurate and up to date so claims can be processed correctly and you are not covering ineligible dependents.

Plan members should be reminded to update their dependent records annually especially if there has been a change in student status.

Most plans cover dependants to the age of 21 or to 25 if still in school.

Evaluating your plan for 2017 and beyond

As plan sponsors begin to see the predictions of significant annual increases become a reality and replace the flat or declining cost trends of the past years, they are turning to evaluating their current plan design to ensure plans are meeting current and future needs.

Plan sponsors should first review their current plan and determine how well it is containing costs. That being said, past experience will not reflect future behaviour. Unlike insured benefits, health benefits, particularly drug benefits, are dynamic and change as the employee demographics change. Many times the older the group the higher the “pooling” charges except in drug capped programs where the pooling charges on an older demographic group are more affected for Out of Country Travel coverage.

What are the biggest costs to the plan? Were these also the biggest costs last year? The year before that? If not, how has this changed? Review each area identified against the impact to plan members.



Employee Wellness – Canadian Employees lacking sleep

Are your employees alert? In their article “Almost a third of employees go to work tired: survey Benefits Canada has reported on The Conference Board of Canada’s report indicating that 27 per cent of Canadian employees report they feel tired most days or every day during the work week.

Lack of sleep can affect productivity and become a health and safety concern, but it can also impact employee wellness and judgement and decision making.

There are many causes of stress that may impact an employees sleep including work stress, home stress and health problems.

Providing information to employees promoting healthy sleep habits and wellness can help employees come to work with less fatigue and more energy. DOES YOUR COMPANY HAVE AN EAP [EMPLOYEE ASSISTANCE PROGRAM]

Do Employee Health and Welfare Actually Help my employees?

This is a question that is very common for Employers when they consider adding an Employee Assistance Program [EAP].
Up to now it has been very difficult to know how much the plan is used due to privacy reasons.
However Sun Life in conjunction with Ivey Business School at Western University has come with a method of calculating the return on investment of an EAP program.
The data was collected since 2011 and focused on physical health. The base was a survey of over 800 participants and the findings were that a Wellness Program can save on average 1.5 to 1.7 days of absenteeism per employee per year or $251 per employee.
Interestingly most EAP programs cost about $2.50 per employee per month.
As we move forward and more employers encourage their employees to use the EAP programs we will find more of a savings.

Russ McEdwards CFP