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Wellness Moment 5 Easy Tips to Spend More Time Outdoors

Health Plus Wellness Moment

Less Screen Time, More Green Time: 

5 Easy Tips to Spend More Time Outdoors

Most of us don't need reminding of the benefits and appeal of being outside on a gorgeous spring day. From childhood memories of playing outside to the latest research on forest bathing and ecotherapy, we know time spent in nature is good for mind and body. But, what many of us don't know is how we'll possibly find time in already packed days  to actually spend more time outdoors. Here are a few suggestions on how we can. 

Take your 'office' outside

Working at home or corporate HQ, think about what you could do outdoors instead of at your desk. Take your laptop to your balcony or backyard or the company's outdoor space, even if it's just to check email. Make a meeting a walk. Have breaks or lunch outside. Even a quick coffee run gives you a few precious minutes of fresh air. Brainstorm on a bench - on your own or with a colleague. You may be surprised by how a new venue can spark new ideas. 

Change up plans with family and friends

For quick catch-ups, regular gatherings or taking care of loved ones, suggest a change from the norm. Schedule a walk instead of a phone call, meet the group at an outdoor café, or maybe just sit in the park or on the porch instead of in the living room for a change. It will do everyone good, especially the people in our lives who due to health, work or other demands, might not otherwise get themselves outside. 

Run errands locally

Instead of your usual trip to the big box stores or the mall, walk (or run) to shops in your neighbourhood or near the office. While you're getting outdoor time and your chores done, you're also doing good for the environment and the small businesses you support. It's a healthy habit for all concerned. 

Take care of your kids (or your own inner child) with more time outside

Do homework or storytime outside. Make dinner a picnic, even on weeknights. Help everyone decompress before with quiet time outdoors. Teens are spending up to 7 hours a day on screens, which has been linked to a higher likelihood of depression and anxiety. Trade screen time for green time. Leave devices behind; watch the birds, the breeze in the trees and the sunset instead. 

Make outside time routine

Schedule standing commitments with yourself and others. It's all too easy to reach the end of the day before the end of the to-do list and promise ourselves, yet again, that we'll do it 'tomorrow'. You don't have to take the whole day off for an epic hike. Research shows stress-hormone levels drop significantly after just 15 minutes sitting outdoors. That's why a park prescription is one worth  filling. 

Thinking of others ...  How fortunate are we to live in beautiful Canada where time outdoors is possible and safe. Our thoughts are with all people in the areas of the world where that's not the case. 

This Wellness Moment is from Health Plus Insurance. Read our past Wellness Moments.  From our family to yours, take care.  If you’re a Health Plus plan member remember you have access to free professional Wellness Resources.  

freelancer health insurance

A Freelancers Guide to Health Insurance

A Freelancer's Guide to Health Insurance

Maybe you're a seasoned freelancer or maybe 2022 is finally the year you're going to make your side gig full-time. You'd be joining an estimated 7 million Canadians who are planning to take the leap to self-employment in the next two years. Whatever your situation, when you work for yourself, there are a few things to know about health insurance. For starters, what do you need, where do you find it, and how much will it cost? 

Freelancing may make up for in freedom what it lacks in group insurance benefits, but if you're looking to replace employee benefits, you probably want answers to these questions. Luckily, we've answered some of the most common questions about finding health insurance as a freelancer. 

Can freelancers get health insurance?

Of course. Many people associate health insurance with either provincial insurance or group benefits offered by an employer. But individual health and dental plans are available for freelancers, contract workers, self-employed professionals, small business owners, and employees without workplace benefits.

Do I really need health insurance in Canada?

Yes. Provincial health insurance doesn’t cover prescription medication, dental, vision care, professional therapies, and much more. That’s where private insurance comes in. If you’re thinking “I don’t spend that much on all that now”, reframe your thinking. Insurance isn’t meant to be a chequing account for existing expenses. While it helps with those, its real value is in protecting you against future health expenses. Insurance allows you to transfer the financial risk associated with future health issues to insurance companies rather than take it all on yourself. Read more on why it’s not a good idea to rely only on your emergency fund.

What's included in health insurance plans available to freelancers?

Plan designs vary. Some comprehensive plans include everything while others are more bare bones. Coverage options that include drugs, dental, vision, emergency travel health, semi-private hospital, massage, physiotherapy, psychology, nursing care, medical equipment and more are available. See what Health Plus covers here.

How much does health insurance cost for a freelancer?

Your monthly rate will vary depending on whether you opt for single, couple, or family coverage, the type of plan and whether you are in good health when you apply. Health Plus plans start at $89/month and include dental, drug, professional therapists, travel health coverage, and extras.

Where can a freelancer find health insurance in Canada?

Many Canadian companies sell plans that are available to freelancers. Some are only available when you are leaving a group insurance plan. These plans can offer great value if you have existing health issues, but it’s always a good idea to shop around.

Health Plus Priority and Optimum plans were designed specifically for freelancers and business owners. These plans are exclusive to Health Plus, but most other insurance plans can be purchased either through an independent broker or direct from the insurance company. The advantage with a broker is you can talk to a licensed advisor who can give you advice about multiple plan options. Luckily Health Plus is also a broker so we can help you compare plans from the big name companies so you find the best plan for you.

What should a freelancer look for in health insurance?

In general, you want a health insurance plan that provides good value, with stable rates, high coverage maximums, and no low per visit limits. As health care costs rise, high drug limits are important, even if you don’t take medication now. As a freelancer, you’ll also want a few extras. Portability, so you can take your plan between contracts or if you start a new business. No contracts, in case you need to cancel in the future if you get benefits through a partner or new job. Extras that can help support you as you build your business.

Can I get health insurance even if I have a pre-existing condition?

Yes, you can. 'No medical questions' or guaranteed acceptance plans do exist. They can be a great choice if you have a chronic condition or ongoing drug expenses. However, if you qualify a medically underwritten plan is almost always the best option. A Health Plus advisor can help you compare your options.

What benefits are available for mental health?

Every year 1 in 5 Canadians will experience a mental health problem or illness. And entrepreneurs report facing unique strain. Finding the right support is critical. Many insurance plans, including Health Plus plans, include coverage for psychologists and social workers, as well as extras to support your mental wellness. All Health Plus Priority and Optimum plan members have access to Lifeworks Employee Assistance Program, which includes free virtual counselling and online resources.

Can I just get dental coverage?

Some ‘dental only’ plans do exist. However, they are typically poor value. Premiums are high and offer little to no protection for other large health expenses you may face in the future.

Is health insurance tax-deductible?

Yes! If you work for yourself the cost of health insurance is fully tax-deductible. This means your actual net cost is lower than your stated monthly rate.

Should freelancers have disability insurance?

It’s a good idea when you work for yourself. Disability insurance offers a monthly tax-free payment to replace some of your lost income if you are unable to work due to illness or injury. It helps provide a safety net that is often lacking when you run your own business.

Do I need life insurance?

Life insurance is an important purchase. It helps protect your loved ones financially in case of the worst-case scenario. Most often the decision to buy life insurance is spurred by a life change, such as getting married, having a child, buying a house, or starting a business.

An advisor can help you figure out your specific needs. And, luckily in many cases life insurance is less expensive than you might think.

Running a business is both stressful and rewarding. Insurance helps put your mind at ease about future health expenses and the right plan offers perks so you're at your best. Still have questions? We're here to help

When is the best time to buy health insurance?

When is the best time to buy health insurance?

If you’ve had health benefits through an employer in the past, you may never have had to think about buying health insurance. It’s just been there. But if you’re on your own for benefits now you may be wondering, is it really the right time to sign up?  

Here’s the reality: the best time to buy health insurance is as soon as possible. There is a common misunderstanding that insurance is something you don’t need while you’re healthy. If you have minimal health expenses now why pay for someone else to cover your health bills? The answer lies in risk and what health insurance is actually meant for.

What is health insurance for?

At its most basic, insurance is financial protection against the possibility of illness or injury. Your insurance plan is an agreement the insurer will pay a portion of both your current and, most importantly, future health expenses.   

What does health insurance cover?

The specifics of what’s covered under a health insurance plan depend on the plan itself. Generally, plans include some combination of coverage for prescription drugs, health (such as medical supplies), dental, and paramedical which refers to professional practitioners such as massage and physiotherapists. These are all services not included in provincial health coverage. Plans may also include vision, travel emergency health coverage, semi-private hospital, and some extras. Some of these covered expenses are for routine care and some are for unexpected emergent or ongoing expenses. 

See what's included in Health Plus PRIORITY and OPTIMUM plans here

What if I don't spend that much money now?

It’s natural to not want to spend money on insurance premiums if you don’t see an equal or greater return. But you’re missing part of the equation, the risk of developing health issues in the future, either acute or chronic. 44% of Canadians aged 20+ have at least one of ten common chronic conditions, a number that rises to 73% for those 65+. Do you have an adequate emergency fund to deal with ongoing health expenses in the event of illness or injury? 

Plus, some plans such as Health Plus PRIORITY and OPTIMUM come with extras you can use now. Like LifeWorks, which offers professional counselling, financial and health resources, and more. These plans offer both future protection and present-day value.  

Because health insurance rates are determined based on a presumption of risk, if you’re young and healthy, your rates will be lower. If you already have health issues, plans with ‘no medical questions’ do exist, but they have lower coverage limits and tend to cost more. The best time to sign up for health insurance is when you’re healthy. It’s the only time you’re guaranteed to have the best plan options for the lowest rates, and know you’re covered for whatever the future holds. 

winter wellness benefit of books

Winter Wellness The Surprising Benefits of Books

The Surprising Benefits of Books in Your Winter Wellness Plan   

Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast or cocoon-inclined, we’ve noticed that winter wellness plans often include time for a good read in a cozy spot.  That, as it turns out has way more health benefits than you might think.  Even if picking up the latest best-seller is not top of your relax list, you can benefit from books. Read on to see what we mean.   

First the Research 

Studies show reading boosts mental and physical health. By helping us escape from everyday concerns, books help reduce stress and the associated health risks. Apparently as little as 6 minutes a day or 30 minutes a week spent reading a book, newspaper or magazine slows heart rate and reduces muscle tensions. Research has also determined that reading improves memory, boosts creativity, aids sleep, helps ward off depression and dementia and significantly, it has been shown that people who read regularly live longer.   
Bookworms already know a good read does wonders for mindset and mood. Who knew it does so much more! And even if you’re not typically a reader, you can benefit just by hearing the ideas that emerge from books and become a topic of good conversation or often referred-to source of advice.  Here’s one example that recently caught our attention. It makes a thought-provoking and practical contribution to winter wellness, whether you actually read this book, or just consider an idea or two.    

4000 Weeks

This is the time on planet earth in an 80-year lifespan. Subtitled Time Management for Mortalsthe book is not about the usual productivity hacks. Quite the opposite. First, the author says we can’t ‘manage’ time. It marches relentlessly on, no matter what, so we should give up trying. Frantically working to ‘get more done’ is a mistake because much of the time all those checklists and efficiency fixes simply help us cram more of the unimportant into our lives, while we postpone what’s really worth our time - in business and personally.     

4000 Weeks is about doing things differently. Here’s just one suggestion: Replace FOMO with JOMO. Instead of making choices based on fear of missing out, savour the JOY of missing out that comes with choosing what is really worth your time.  Say no to as much lower-ranking ‘stuff’ as possible (even though admittedly some of it might be pleasant) so you can focus time and energy on your top priorities and what you truly value. In this season of reflecting on 2021 and planning for the new year, it’s the perfect time for these words of wisdom.   

4000 Books & Counting

While of course most of us love a good story, there are health benefits from all kinds of reading.  Follow your bliss.  Books about hobbies and interests from art to gaming to zen gardens. Sports: tips for the amateur and stories of success. Think food: kitchen star, bar chef or really good at making reservations, the pictures alone often inspire healthy eating or remind us of happy times around the table. Think travel: reminiscing, planning future adventures or just an armchair trip, travel books help us “escape” for a time. War and Peace. Just kidding. Not that the classics aren’t worthwhile.  
The point is ... pick any topic you’ll enjoy. It’s the time spent in the escape, the delicious downtime of being fully absorbed in a story, a subject or the visuals, then enjoying the after-effect of the renewed energy to tackle your responsibilities and goals. A good read is good for your health!   

This Wellness Moment is from Health Plus Insurance. From our family to yours, take care.  If you’re a Health Plus plan member remember you have access to free professional Wellness Resources.  

Emergency fund vs. health insurance

Assurance maladie et fonds d’urgence

Assurance maladie et fonds d'urgence

Pour commencer, nous croyons que tout le monde devrait avoir une assurance maladie. Nous sommes des assureurs, ce qui signifie que nous ne prenons pas de risques énormes, du moins dans ce domaine. Nous avons vu les tendances des dépenses en santé au fil des ans. Nous voulons que les gens soient protégés. Cela dit, vous devriez avoir les connaissances nécessaires pour prendre votre propre décision, alors nous allons vous préciser ce qu’il en est. Pouvez-vous vous « auto-assurer » avec votre propre fonds d’urgence pour soins de santé ou devriez-vous souscrire une assurance maladie?

Qu’est-ce qu’un fonds d’urgence?

Un fonds d’urgence est de l’argent mis de côté pour, comme vous l’avez deviné, des urgences ou des situations où vous avez besoin d’un accès rapide à de l’argent pour faire face à quelque chose d’inattendu, comme une perte d’emploi. Un fonds d’urgence pour soins de santé est destiné à des économies réservées spécifiquement aux urgences médicales, comme une maladie ou un accident grave. Ces économies peuvent être intégrées dans votre fonds d’urgence régulier ou séparément.

Pour quoi précisément économisez-vous?

Pour tout objectif d’épargne valable, il y a deux ou trois questions importantes auxquelles il faut répondre. Pour quoi économisez-vous? Et de combien avez-vous besoin? Nous passerons à la deuxième question dans une minute, mais d’abord, voyons ce pour quoi vous devez économiser. Les dépenses de santé courantes comme les examens dentaires annuels, les lentilles cornéennes ou les services professionnels occasionnels ne sont pas des urgences et peuvent être intégrées à votre budget régulier. Vous devez vous préparer aux coûts imprévus attribuables à une maladie ou à une blessure. Il peut s’agir de médicaments d’ordonnance coûteux, d’équipement médical, de soins de physiothérapie ou de soins infirmiers. Ces coûts pourraient également comprendre des dépenses connexes comme des congés pour vous rétablir, de l’aide non médicale dans votre entreprise ou votre foyer, ou des modifications à la maison.

How much do you need in your health emergency fund?

Dans un fonds d’urgence typique, les experts financiers conseillent d’économiser l’équivalent de trois à six mois de frais de subsistance. Si vous choisissez de ne pas avoir d’assurance, vous devriez envisager d’économiser de l’argent supplémentaire afin qu’en cas d’urgence, vous n’ayez pas à puiser dans l’argent réservé aux frais de subsistance courants. Cela est particulièrement important, car les urgences médicales ont souvent une incidence sur votre capacité de travailler. Mais quel est le bon montant à épargner? Il n’y a pas de réponse unique. L’accès de chacun à un soutien extérieur et le risque de développer une maladie chronique ou de subir une blessure grave sont différents. En partie en raison du biais d’optimisme, nous avons tendance à sous-estimer ce risque pour nous-mêmes. Il peut être utile d’examiner des chiffres réels. Le coût moyen des médicaments spécialisés au Canada est de près de 20 000 $ par année. Ces médicaments traitent des problèmes inflammatoires chroniques comme la polyarthrite rhumatoïde, la maladie de Crohn et le psoriasis grave, ainsi que des cancers et d’autres problèmes. Un Canadien sur cinq souffre d’un problème de santé mentale ou d’une maladie mentale au cours d’une année donnée. Compte tenu de l’écart entre les services de santé mentale et les soins de santé publics, les Canadiens dépensent environ 950 millions de dollars par année en psychologues.

Qu’est-ce que l’assurance maladie?

L’assurance maladie offre une protection contre les pertes financières possibles en payant une partie ou la totalité de vos frais médicaux. Les régimes provinciaux ne couvrent pas à eux seuls tous les soins de santé courants ou les coûts imprévus. L’assurance maladie privée pour laquelle vous payez des frais, habituellement mensuels, couvre de nombreuses dépenses de santé qui ne sont pas couvertes par l’assurance provinciale.

Bien que la couverture des frais médicaux courants soit bonne, le véritable avantage de l’assurance est la protection contre le risque de faire face à des dépenses importantes, imprévues et continues qui pourraient épuiser entièrement un fonds d’urgence typique. L’assurance invalidité est également importante à envisager. Elle remplace une partie de votre revenu si vous êtes incapable de travailler en raison d’une maladie ou d’une blessure.

Pourquoi devriez-vous avoir à la fois un fonds d’urgence et une assurance maladie?

Si les deux dernières années nous ont appris quelque chose, c’est que la vie est imprévisible. Un grave problème de santé peut faire disparaître très rapidement un fonds d’urgence typique. Même si vous pouvez bâtir un plus grand filet de sécurité grâce à vos propres économies, votre argent peut mieux fonctionner pour vous. L’assurance, y compris l’assurance maladie et l’assurance invalidité, fournit une dépense régulière, budgétisée et déductible d’impôt. Après avoir constitué un modeste fonds d’urgence, vous pouvez vous concentrer sur la croissance de votre argent en investissant ou en l’utilisant pour des projets personnels ou professionnels, sans culpabilité ni inquiétude. Même s’il est vrai qu’il y a toujours un risque que vous n’ayez pas besoin de toute votre assurance, cela signifie que vous aurez eu la chance de mener une vie saine. L’assurance et un fonds d’urgence procurent la tranquillité d’esprit. Les deux vous aident à bâtir un avenir financier sain et résilient.

credit card insurance

How credit card insurance works

How credit card insurance works

Have you ever wondered about credit card insurance? Financial expert Barry Choi of Money We Have explains how it works and what to look out for.

When used responsibly, credit cards can be a great tool to help you manage your money. While everyone knows you can use them to make interest free payments, what you may not realize is that many cards come with insurance policies that can be quite useful. 

Generally speaking, these types of insurance are broken into two types: travel and purchase insurance. Like any other insurance policy, you never hope to use it. However, if you do need to make a claim, you'll be glad to have it. Although the insurance policies are automatically included with your credit card, there's still specific criteria that needs to be met before it becomes valid. Additionally, what you're covered for isn't always clear, that's why you need to know how credit card insurance works. 

Types of travel insurance

Every insurance policy included with credit cards is different, so you always need to read the terms and conditions. That said, the following are the most common types of insurance policies included. It's worth noting that not every credit card includes all of the insurance policies: 

Travel medical insurance 

Travel medical insurance is arguably the most important type of travel insurance. As the name implies, it'll cover you if you need to seek medical attention whenever you leave the province where you reside. What many people don't realize is that the cost of health care can be extremely high in some countries, but if you have travel medical insurance, you should be covered. 

It's worth noting that most credit card travel insurance policies require you to contact them before you seek medical attention (if possible). They'll then open up a claim and direct you to the nearest clinic or hospital. 

Premium travel insurance

Premium travel insurance covers travel claims that aren't medical related. Things such as trip cancellation, trip interruption, delayed baggage, hotel/motel burglary, and rental car insurance would all fall under premium travel insurance. 

Many of the best travel credit cards in Canada including the American Express Platinum Card come with both travel medical and premium travel insurance. That said, you do need to read your policy details as not every type of premium travel insurance may be included. there are also maximum limits for each type of insurance to be aware of when making a claim. 

Mobile device insurance

In recent years, mobile device insurance has become more popular with credit card providers. If you have the insurance, your mobile devices which include mobile phones and tablets are insured. In most cased, there's a cap of $100 - $1500 in insurance coverage. There's also depreciation and a deductible to factor in when making a claim. That may annoy some people, but it's a handy insurance policy to have if you every need to make a claim. 

Purchase protection

Many credit cards include purchase protection, but not many people make claims. With this insurance, your purchases are usually protected from theft, loss and damage for 90 days from your purchase date. 

Extended warranty 

Extended warranty policies are another form of insurance that can be incredibly handy. Under this policy, your manufacturer's warranty is usually doubled up to one additional year. For example, if your purchases have a one year warranty policy, it gets doubled if you have extended warranty through your credit card. If you have to make a claim between years 1 and 2, you would make it through your credit card provider.  

How to ensure your credit card insurance is valid

As mentioned, you really need to pay attention to the details of your credit card insurance policies. With travel medical insurance, you're covered no matter what, but with all the other insurance policies you usually need to charge the full amount of your purchases to your card with the insurance for it to be valid. 

Pay special attention to your premium travel insurance details. For example, some policies say you need to charge the full amount of your travel purchases to your card for the insurance to be valid, while other cards might say 75%. If you're using points to offset your costs, your insurance policy may no longer be valid since you're not paying the full amount. 

With purchase insurance policies, you need to make sure you hang onto the receipts of your purchases. Additionally, you'll need to provide the statement when the purchase was made if you need to make a claim. Without both items, your insurance claim will likely be denied. 

When it comes to mobile device insurance., you need to pay for the entire device with your credit card. If you're getting your hardware subsidized, then you need to pay your monthly bills with your credit card with the mobile device insurance. 

Is credit card insurance worth it?

Having insurance is never a bad thing, you just need to make sure you understand the policy details. There's absolutely no reason why you shouldn't make a claim if you have the insurance. 

That said, the devil really is in the details. For example, credit card travel medical insurance for seniors typically only last 3 days. That's obviously not enough for most people, so you'd be better off buying a separate policy that provides you enough coverage for your needs

About the author

Barry Choi is an award-winning consumer and travel expert. his specialty is making tough financial topics easy to understand. You can read more of his articles at moneywehave.com 

plan updates

Even More Health Plus Plan Updates For You

At Health Plus our goal is to provide the best health and dental plans to small business owners and freelancers. That means continually looking for ways to offer more coverage and working to keep  rates low. We know the past two years have brought a whole new range of challenges for all Canadians, particularly small businesses. Your insurance plans should help you lead a healthy life through the ups and downs. 

Current News ... 

We're happy to announce that effective December 1st, 2021, we've increased the Vision maximum (OPTIMUM plan) for eye exams from $50 to $75 every 2 years. We've also added coverage in both our PRIORITY and OPTIMUM plans for Intrauterine Devices (IUDs) as a form of contraception. This change was prompted by a client request and brings coverage in line with the health needs of Canadians. 

Keeping Your Rates Low ...

We are extremely proud that, as other insurance companies have increased rates, we have kept our plan rates the same. In fact, we have never raised our rates, something no other insurer can say. We also continue to offer the same low pricing at all ages. 

A Look Back ... 

As we mentioned, making the plan better for our members has always been important to us. Updates in the last few years include adding an Employee Assistance Plan (EAP), coverage for Major Restorative Dental, increasing dental coverage maximums, extending travel emergency health coverage and lowering rates for single parents. 

plan updates

Wellness is Always a Priority ...

Health is more than just visits to the dentist. It's also about your mental health, emotional wellbeing, and financial wellness. We are committed to making wellness a part of our everyday lives. That's why we include free wellness benefits for our plan members and offer regular Wellness Moments on our blog and social media. And, wellness stays top of mind as we continue to build our plans. 

View Full Coverage Info

Have questions? Contact Us

Ready to get covered?

Emergency fund vs. health insurance

Health Insurance vs. Emergency Funds

Health Insurance vs. Emergency Funds

Just to put it out there at the outset, we believe everyone should have health insurance. We're insurers, which means we're not huge risk takers, at least in this area. We've seen the trends in health spending over the years. We want people to be protected. That said, you should have the knowledge to make your own decision. So we'll break it down for you. Can you "self-insure" with your own medical emergency fund or should you sign up for health insurance?

What is an emergency fund?

An emergency fund is money set aside for, you guessed it, emergencies or situations when you need quick access to money to deal with something unexpected, such as job loss. A medical emergency fund is savings specifically reserved for medical emergencies, such as illness or a serious accident. These savings can be integrated into your regular emergency fund or separate. 

What specifically are you saving for?

With any good savings goal there are a couple of important questions to answer. What are you saving for? And how much do you need? We'll get to the second question in a minute but first, let's consider what you actually need to save for. Routine health expenses such as annual dental exams, contact lenses, or occasional professional therapy are not emergencies and can be built into your regular budget. Unexpected costs due to illness or injury are what you should prepare for. They may include ongoing expensive prescription medication costs, medical equipment, extensive physiotherapy or nursing care. These costs could also include related expenses such as time off work to recover, non-medical assistance in your business or household, or home modifications. 

How much do you need in your health emergency fund?

In a typical emergency fund, financial experts advise saving between 3-6 months living expenses. If you choose to go without any insurance, you should consider having additional money saved so that in the event of an emergency, you don't have to dip into money earmarked for routine living expenses. This is particularly important as medical emergencies often impact your ability to work. But how much is the right amount to save? There is no one answer; everyone's access to outside support and risk of developing chronic illness or sustaining a serious injury are different. In part due to the optimism bias, we tend to underestimate this risk for ourselves. Looking at some actual numbers can help. The average cost of specialty drugs in Canada is almost $20 000 / year. These drugs treat chronic inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, and severe psoriasis, as well as cancers and other conditions. 1 in 5 Canadians experience a mental health problem or illness in any given year. With a gap in mental health services in public healthcare, Canadians spend an estimate of $950 million per year on psychologists.

What is health insurance?

Health insurance provides protection against the possibility of financial loss by paying for some or all of your medical bills. Provincial plans alone do not cover all routine healthcare or unexpected costs. Private health insurance for which you pay a fee, usually monthly, provides coverage for many health expenses not covered by provincial insurance. 

While coverage for routine medical expenses is good, the true benefit of insurance is protection against the risk of facing large, unexpected, ongoing expenses that could entirely drain a typical emergency fund. Disability insurance is also important to consider. It replaces some of your income should you become unable to work due to illness or injury. 

Why you should have both an emergency fund and health insurance

If the past two years have taught us anything it's that life is unpredictable. A serious health issue can wipe out a typical emergency fund quite quickly. While you can build up a larger safety net, through your own savings, your money can work better for you. Insurance, including health and disability provides a regular, budget-able, tax-deductible expense. After building up a modest emergency fund, you can focus on growing your money through investing, or using it for personal or professional projects, guilt and worry free. While it's true there's always a risk you won't "need" all your insurance, that means you'll have been lucky enough to lead a healthy life. Both insurance and an emergency fund provide peace of mind. Both help you build a healthy, resilient financial future.

make the most of summer

3 Steps to Help You Make the Most of Summer’s End

Wellness Moment

3 Steps to Help you Make the Most of Summer's End

Summer can be great but this year we weren’t sure what to expect. For many, there’s ongoing stress and sadness from the last eighteen months. Even if you’re enjoying some of your usual activities, we can all agree that Summer 2021 is simply disappearing wa-aay too fast.  While self-care was essential when we entered a COVID world, this Summer as we emerge, it’s just as important. For the sake of your health, this Moment is to encourage you to make the most of Summer – especially this one as it winds down. There’s still time. Here are three thoughts to help.

1. Let Go of Expectations

It’s all too easy to base our priorities and our days on ‘shoulds’ and comparisons to the past and the people around us.  Although a return to so-called normal life appears to be happening, it’s not necessarily easy and looks different for each of us.  For some, connecting with loved ones as soon and as often as possible is our happy place. For others, it’s a hurdle to put ourselves out there. Lockdown may have offered a welcome retreat or shaken our confidence in ourselves or our safety. Worry about new rules and protocols can cause awkward interactions, even for social butterflies. Some relationships or activities may have changed and things just won’t be the same – for a while, maybe not ever again.  Maybe you’re not as keen as you thought you’d be about returning to pre-COVID commitments. Or maybe on the business front you’re holding yourself accountable to old goals and out-of-date plans.  

The point is it’s all OKAY.  The reality is post-pandemic life may look different than before. Let go of expectations about what you ‘should’ be doing and what summer ‘should’ have looked like. There’s still time to make this one fun and healthy. 

2. Turn Off Your Auto-Pilot

Whether you’re feeling hesitant about ramping back up or already feeling the pressure of pre-Covid level commitments, take a step back to consider what really matters to you. Surveys on COVID-related stress show one positive result of the difficult experience. Over 75% of people report greater appreciation for the value of our health, for friends and family, a greater sense of self-reliance, and most significantly a shift in priorities about what’s important. The lesson? Don’t automatically do, just because you’ve always done.   
Turn up your inner voice. Be mindful of what’s important to you now.  Ask yourself: are you actually keen to rejoin the team or class? Couldn’t possibly miss any get togethers?  Maybe you’d rather spend the time exploring something new.  Going after what you really want may mean stepping out of your comfort zone. Remember, holding on to what matters is not the same as staying stuck.  Summer is a great time to reflect and rethink before launching into Fall and Winter routines.   

3. Set a Date to Escape

Let’s not kid ourselves. Navigating the new normal, rethinking priorities, on top of meeting our regular work and life demands is not easy. Sometimes we can’t see how we’ll manage it all. What we do know is that hard work goes better when we take a break. Take a day off…a week if you can. We’re not necessarily talking luxury adventures or exotic destinations. We’re talking about time away from work, worry and routine to relax and restore. 
Forbes Magazine reports on the value of a vacation to boost physical and mental health.  Taking time off helps lower stress and anxiety, buffers against depression and restores resilience.  And for those of us who think we” "just can’t afford the time” a study by Boston Consulting Group found that professionals who took time off were much more productive after a holiday than before.  One of the ways to successfully navigate the stresses and strains of our daily lives and ‘get things done’ is to step away for a break.   Yet this year we’ve postponed trips, cancelled events or avoided making any plans at all. It’s not too late. 

So please, take a moment now to mark your calendar … out-of-office, offline, closed for the day or the week. Make a plan for your vacation - micro or major – a special weekend, hiking, a concert, a road-trip.  It’s the best way to savour the last days of Summer and best of all, set yourself up for good health in all seasons.   

This Wellness Moment is from Health Plus Insurance. From our family to yours, take care.  If you’re a Health Plus plan member remember you have access to free professional Wellness Resources.  

travel insurance, assurance voyage

Ai-je vraiment besoin d’une assurance voyage?

On peut dire sans se tromper que bon nombre d’entre nous rêvent de voyager à nouveau, que ce soit près ou loin de chez nous. Dans ces rêves, nos voyages sont parfaits, avec des sites extraordinaires, de la bonne nourriture, des gens formidables. Si tous vos voyages antérieurs se sont bien déroulés, ou même si vous avez eu un problème de santé mineur dans une destination offrant des soins de santé accessibles et abordables, vous vous demandez peut-être si vous pouvez vous en tirer sans assurance voyage.

Même s’il y a de fortes chances que vos voyages futurs soient aussi agréables, les voyageurs chevronnés savent que tout ne se passe pas toujours comme prévu. Et en tant qu’assureurs, nous avons vu les coûts d’un accident ou d’une maladie en vacances.

Pour vous aider à vous préparer à votre prochain voyage, décomposons ce que l’assurance voyage peut vous offrir.

Protection en matière de soins de santé d'urgence

Il s’agit du type de protection le plus important que vous devriez avoir lorsque vous voyagez. La protection en matière de soins médicaux d’urgence à l’étranger vous sera versée si vous avez un accident ou une maladie imprévue pendant votre voyage. Dans certains pays, les coûts des soins de santé peuvent être faramineux, y compris chez notre voisin du Sud, où un séjour à l’hôpital peut coûter des milliers de dollars par jour. Un autre avantage qui est souvent négligé est le soutien pour naviguer dans le système de santé d’un pays étranger et trouver rapidement des soins de qualité. Cela peut faire une différence pour votre santé et peut-être sauver votre voyage. 

Les régimes Health Plus comprennent une protection en matière de soins médicaux d’urgence pouvant aller jusqu’à 60 jours par voyage. La protection comprend ce qui suit :

  • Accès 24 heures sur 24, 7 jours sur 7, à une ligne d’aide aux voyageurs pour obtenir des soins médicaux sécuritaires et locaux;
  • Frais médicaux comme les examens et l’hospitalisation;
  • Transport médical d’urgence ou rapatriement, si nécessaire;
  • Certaines dépenses directes en cas d’hospitalisation (p. ex. garde d’enfants).
Qu'en est-il de la COVID-19?

Au début de la pandémie, de nombreux assureurs ont limité la couverture des dépenses liées à la COVID‑19 conformément aux restrictions de voyage. La plupart de ces limites ont depuis été levées, bien que la protection varie selon l’assureur. Co-operators, qui offre l’assurance voyage comprise dans les régimes Health Plus, couvre les frais associés à la COVID‑19 en voyage. Les tests de dépistage requis pour les déplacements, comme le passage à la frontière, ne sont pas couverts. Si vous avez un problème de santé préexistant ou chronique, assurez-vous de consulter votre police pour voir s’il y a des exclusions liées aux voyages. 

Annulation et interruption de voyage, perte de bagages

Beaucoup de gens se concentrent sur ces aspects de la protection, parce que, soyons réalistes, il est décevant, stressant et coûteux de devoir annuler ou reporter un voyage ou de perdre ses effets personnels. D’autres adoptent cette approche : n’apportez pas en voyage un objet que vous ne pouvez pas vous permettre de perdre. Après tout, vos effets personnels peuvent être remplacés, mais pas votre santé. Si vous choisissez d’acheter ce type d’assurance voyage (qui n’est pas incluse dans les régimes Health Plus), il est important de lire votre police, car bon nombre d’assurances comportent des restrictions et des limites.

C’est toujours à vous de déterminer le risque que vous êtes prêts à prendre. Mais en ce qui concerne votre santé, nous vous conseillons de vous protéger lorsque vous voyagez. Le risque pour votre portefeuille, votre santé et votre voyage n’en vaut tout simplement pas la peine. Vérifiez votre protection actuelle pour déterminer exactement ce pour quoi vous êtes déjà couvert et travaillez avec un conseiller qualifié pour combler les lacunes.