Benefit Plan Updates

OHIP+: what you need to know

OHIP+ : what you need to know Effective January 1, 2018 all Ontario residents under the age of 25 are eligible for free prescription drugs through the OHIP+: Children and Youth Pharmacare Program.  The program will cover over 4,400 commonly prescribed medications and other drug products. You do not need to enroll for this program, as coverage is automatic.  Anyone...

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2018 increases to dental fee guides announced

It’s a new year and that means an update to the provincial dental fee guides. These guides are a reference of suggested fees for dental services, updated annually by each province’s dental association and used to help set rates for both dental practitioners and employer-sponsored benefits plans. While these guides offer suggested rates, it’s important to note that there is...

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Paramedical care coverage: Giving your employees supplemental healthcare options they need

As a business owner, the health and well-being of your employees is critical to having a dedicated, happy and productive workforce. That means, along with standard medical and dental coverage, you should consider providing your employees with a group insurance plan that offers paramedical care such as acupuncture, osteopathy, massage therapy, physiotherapy and chiropractic care, to name a few. Overall...

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EI changes now in effect

Changes to the Employment Insurance maximum insurable earnings and benefit came into effect on January 1, 2018. The maximum insurable earnings has increased to $51,700 per year.  The maximum weekly EI benefit is now up to $547.  For employees whose short-term disability (STD) plans have a maximum benefit set at the EI maximum, rather than a separate specific amount, that...

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EI premiums and short-term disability

Many employers in Ontario don’t realize that if they offer a short-term disability plan, they could be eligible for a rate reduction on their Employment Insurance (EI) premium known as the EI Premium Reduction Program. The amount of the reduction varies depending on the type of plan, with four different “categories” of plans, as set out by the Employment Insurance...

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Employee disability insurance and termination

When it comes to terminating an employee, the termination of that employee’s benefits program can be much more complicated than the termination itself. Many employers don’t realize that when an employee is terminated without cause, the employee’s access to disability benefits doesn’t necessarily end on the same day as the termination. The benefits may end on the employee’s last day...

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The value of an Employee Assistance Program

Stress has become much more prevalent in our society and with the hectic lives we lead, many of us are finding it hard to keep up. Work/life balance is a huge part of that stress and your employee’s performance and productivity can be affected if they are under too much stress, either inside or outside of, the workplace. Many employers...

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What is a formulary drug plan?

You may have heard the term “formulary” in reference to your benefits plan. Certain drug plans include formularies, which is simply a list of the drugs covered under that particular benefits program. Formularies may vary from plan to plan, depending on the plan sponsor’s preference, and can include allowances and/or restrictions for certain brand name drugs. Often, formularies are described...

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OHIP: What’s covered when you’re out of Ontario

In Ontario, we are lucky to have OHIP coverage, so that when we become sick or have an accident, we don’t think twice about visiting our doctor or going to the hospital in the event of an emergency. However, once we leave the province, our access to medical coverage becomes less easily available – and more expensive. While OHIP does...

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Understanding Ontario’s Assisted Devices Program

For those living with long-term disabilities, the cost of medical equipment can be a huge financial strain. Assistive devices such as wheelchairs and communication equipment can add up to thousands of dollars; and when you add these costs to the stress of day-to-day living with a medical condition, it’s not just a financial burden, but an emotional one as well....

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Insurers roll out drug cost pooling program

Canadian life and health insurers are coming together to offer a new drug pooling framework, which they say will help to protect benefits plan sponsors and members from the financial impact of high-cost drugs. The framework, which came into effect January 1, involves insurers banding together in order to share the costs of expensive and recurring drug treatments. Participating insurers...

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Understanding prior authorization for drug claims

Controlling benefits plan costs is a constant concern for employers. With the rising costs of drugs and the development of new, more expensive, medical technologies, benefits plans are at risk of becoming prohibitively expensive for both plan sponsors to administer, and plan members to participate in. In fact, according to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, Canadian employers on the...

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Seasonal allergies and how to alleviate your symptoms

For those who suffer seasonal allergies, you know how awful suffering the symptoms can be. A survey commissioned by Johnson & Johnson found that as many as 10 million Canadians suffer from allergy symptoms and that 55 per cent of those claim their allergies cut into their productivity. More than 25 per cent of those people say they’ll limit their...

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Employee versus contract worker

It seems more and more employers are turning to contract workers, part-time workers and freelance businesses to help them reduce costs and run lean.  For employees, the role within the company, whether it’s as full-time staff or as an independent contractor, can affect your rights to health benefits, employment insurance, pension contributions and tax breaks.  At its most basic, the...

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Sickness benefits and parental leave

Under the Helping Families in Need Act, EI benefits will be provided for up to 35 weeks to parents should their children become critically ill or injured. As well, parents’ jobs would remain legally protected while they take a leave of absence to care for an ill or injured child. The legislation also includes provisions for employees who become ill...

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Critical illness insurance offers peace of mind

Critical illness insurance aims to offer piece of mind by providing financial assistance to you and your loved ones in the case of a life-altering illness such as heart attack, cancer or stroke. While these are the most commonly covered conditions, other medical ailments such as paralysis, Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease may also be covered under some policies....

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Be prepared for the unexpected

It’s important to have life insurance to make sure that your loved ones are taken care of in the event that something happens to you. However,  you have a very good chance of surviving that “something”, be it an accident or a diagnosed illness. And surviving can not only change your life, it will drastically change your lifestyle and your...

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Your oral health can impact your overall health

We all know that good oral health can equal a bright white smile. But did you know poor oral health can be hazardous to your overall health? In fact, the number of problems poor oral health can cause is significant and in recent years, more and more research has been done to prove that taking care of your teeth is...

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Biologics: The new drug

If you have followed recent health news, you’ve likely heard the word “biologics”. They’re certainly big news in the benefits world.  Biologics are a class of prescription drug and, while they’re not exactly new on the market, they are new in terms of drug coverage. A biologic is a drug that’s derived from bacteria and micro-organisms, blood and blood products...

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Recent changes to pharmacy practices in Ontario

Earlier this month, the Ontario government introduced several changes to pharmacists’ scope of practice. Perhaps the biggest change and the one that certainly received the most coverage in the news, is that specially trained pharmacists are now able to administer flu shots. Previously, flu shots could only be administered by doctors at flu clinics set up by employers or other...

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How technology is helping to make claim submissions easier

Submitting claims for healthcare benefits such as massage and chiropractic care can sometimes be a frustrating experience. You have to pay your health care provider upfront, get the receipt, fill in the paperwork, photocopy it, send it in and then wait to receive the cheque in the mail. But technology is making this chore faster and easier by allowing people...

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Changes in effect for ADandD and CI insurance plans

Effective January 1, 2013, contributions made by employers for both accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D) insurance and critical illness (CI) insurance are taxable income for employees for federal income tax purpose. (Taxable benefits are non-cash benefits provided to employees by their employer and are subject to income tax.) AD&D insurance is a limited form of life and injury insurance that...

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Conversion options for your life insurance plan

When you leave your employer, whether for retirement or other reasons, you often lose your benefit program, including your life insurance coverage. But this doesn’t mean you are left without options and one thing you should consider is converting your group life insurance benefit to an individual life insurance policy. Doing so can offer many benefits, one of which is...

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Why it’s necessary to secure your loved ones financial future

Death is not something any of us like to think about but, much like having a current will, it’s always better to be prepared and having group life insurance as part of your employee benefit plan can help you do that. If you have a family you want to make sure your loved ones aren’t left struggling from the loss...

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Voluntary standards for mental health in the workplace: What do they mean?

Workplace mental health is one of the leading concerns for employers today; according to a report in the Toronto Star, “it’s one of the top reasons for disability claims, absenteeism and lost productivity.” (http://www.thestar.com/news/world/2013/01/16/canada_launches_workplace_standards_for_mental_health_and_safety.html) And trying to minimize the impact of poor mental health in the workplace can be a daunting undertaking for many employers, who often don’t know where...

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The benefits of biometric screening

It sounds like a scary sci-fi procedure, but biometric screening is actually nothing to be afraid of. In fact, screenings can help to protect your health. Biometric screenings (also known as health risk assessments) are health exams that assess your current overall health and that determine your risk level for developing certain diseases and medical conditions, such as diabetes, heart...

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Understanding presenteeism

Most of us – both employers and employees – are aware of the concern regarding absenteeism in the workplace. Frequent absences can affect employee productivity, which puts a financial burden on the employer and could create excess work for other employees, thereby leading to reduced morale and burnout. However, one issue in the workplace that receives much less focus is...

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Benefits changes to acupuncture services take effect

On April 1, 2013, acupuncture became a recognized registered profession in Ontario, and all practicing acupuncturists are now required to be registered with the College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists of Ontario.  Note that if your acupuncturist is not registered, future claims from this practitioner will likely be declined – even though past claims from the same acupuncturist...

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How to have a successful return to work

After an employee has been absent from the workplace for a long time – perhaps as a result of illness or family emergency – reintegrating back into the work environment can be a stressful situation. People may have changed, roles may have changed and the overall sudden switch from being home (or in hospital) to being at work can feel...

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Oral hygiene is important for both men and women

Whether you are male or female, good oral hygiene is equally important. However, there are certain facts and statistics that show that men and women face different challenges in maintaining optimal oral health. Below are some tips for both men and women to ensure continued, good oral health: Men: The single most danger to men having poor oral health is...

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Choosing the proper toothbrush and using proper brushing techniques

Taking care of your teeth is essential not only for a white, bright smile, but for your overall health as well. Whether you choose a standard or electric toothbrush, make sure that you are able to brush your teeth properly and without damaging your gums. Here are some tips on how to pick a toothbrush that’s right for you: Make...

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Take care of your body’s largest organ – your skin

Having healthy skin is much more important to our overall health than just having a beautiful complexion. Your skin, which is also our largest organ, has many functions including acting as a thermostat to trigger the body’s heating and cooling mechanism, protecting us from external damage, toxic substances, bacteria and radiation, as well as helping to make vitamin D, to...

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Proper foot care and health are important, too

Feet are often one of the most neglected parts of our bodies because it’s not something we generally pay attention to until we feel pain. Proper foot care should begin at a young age and just like you take your child to the doctor or dentist, you should also be taking them to a podiatrist. This is so they can...

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How to tackle bad breath

We’ve all had it at some point, or unfortunately, experienced it from someone else: bad breath. Luckily, bad breath, or halitosis, is one of those things that can be cleared up with some key tips, information and good oral hygiene. Below are some tips on how you can have the freshest breath and avoid that embarrassing moment where someone offers...

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Try using colour to choose the healthiest food to eat!

Everyone wants to eat as healthfully as possible, but when it comes to choosing healthy foods and knowing what benefits each provide, it can be an overwhelming experience if you are not a trained nutritionist. But there is a simple way you can begin to learn what fruits and vegetables are the best for you to eat and what qualities...

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Salt awareness – too much salt in your diet can cause a myriad of health problems

There are two types of people when it comes to food: those who have a sweet tooth and those who love salt. Table salt is comprised of 40 per cent sodium and the recommended daily amount for an adult is 1 500 mg. According to the Ontario medical Association, Canadians are consuming double the amount of salt in their diet...

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The importance of water safety

The summer months are synonymous with swimming and having fun in the water. However, according to Safe Kids Canada, drowning is leading cause of injury death each year in Canada and the worst part of that fact is that many of these deaths could have been avoided. There are many things you can do, whether you are at the cottage,...

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Obesity is on the rise in all age groups in Ontario

According to the Ontario Medical Association, the past decade has seen obesity rates in all age groups rise to dangerous levels This is a particular concern in children and said to be at epidemic proportions. Their health is not only affected while they’re young, but it’s predicted to continue to do so as they grow into adulthood. Regardless of age,...

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Why low-carb diets are a short-term solution to long-term weight loss

Atkins and South Beach Diet are just a couple of the diets that restrict eating carbohydrates as a way to lose weight. They have remained popular over the years because if you have the discipline to cut out everything from pasta to rice, bread and any type of dessert like cake, you will lose weight and start to lose the...

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Why popular diets aren’t always ideal for weight loss

Losing weight, or maintaining a healthy weight, can be a life-long struggle. As a result, many people are willing to try any popular diet or weight loss program available and oftentimes they do so without any long term success. Some warning signs that the weight loss program or diet you are thinking of trying may not offer you long term...

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Healthy Hearing: when it’s time for you to get a hearing test

Throughout our lives, we go to the doctor to check our health, the dentist to check our teeth and see various specialists as the need for one arises. But one part of the bodily function we rarely check until something serious happens, or something obvious gives us cause to do so, is our hearing. Hearing, like breathing, is one of...

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The importance of proper nutrition

Hectic schedules often leave little time for eating three proper meals a day. However, like exercise, eating right is an important component of overall health and wellness. And let’s face it; saying that you are too busy is a poor excuse. When you’re not eating properly, you’re going to have less energy, be less alert and you will not be...

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How to de-stress and find ways to relax, suggestions that anyone can use

We have all experienced the stress that comes from a hectic work-life schedule. While we have many roles to play and we wear several different hats, it’s important to take care of yourself by exercising, eating well and taking time to de-stress. But in order to do this, we have to learn how to relax and you may be surprised...

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Fitting exercising into your busy schedule

Physical activity is an important part of being healthy, but a lack of time and motivation are two big reasons people don’t exercise. But doing something is always better than doing nothing. And anyone can find 10 – 20 minutes each day, especially if you do exercises that make the most of the minimal time you have. Interval training is...

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Sleep deprivation is detrimental to your health

If you are sleeping at least eight hours a night, you will spend up to a third of your lifetime sleeping! And while how much sleep a person requires depends on the age and lifestyle of the individual, a general rule is that at least eight hours a night are required to be fully rested. Many people claim to need...

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