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pandemic wall

How to restore balance when you’ve hit the pandemic wall

How to Restore Balance When You've Hit the Pandemic Wall

While we’re all looking forward to a better summer, we’re not quite there. On the good days, we’re thinking about travel – some around the globe, some across town to see loved ones. On the bad, COVID fatigue and distress can make it hard to muster the energy for anything at all. Re-openings are no guarantee of instant relief and the ongoing stress and demands can stop us in our tracks. If you’ve hit a pandemic wall, whatever form that takes for you, here are a few ways to restore resilience. And as you move forward, these strategies will help keep you going. 

Don't Look Down

A lesson from aerialists: when you’re on a tightrope, look straight ahead, not down at the distance to solid ground. Unfortunately, when we’re anxious and exhausted, looking down is exactly what we tend to do. We catastrophize and imagine the terrible what-ifs. While worry in tough times is natural, psychologists point out there are two kinds. Constructive worry is when we’re faced with problems, risks and uncertainty but choose to focus on what we can do rather than what we can’t. Destructive worry is when we loop the unknown and worst-case scenario over and over in our heads and regard disaster as inevitable. Do your best to recognize the difference. Awareness will help you catch yourself before worry brings you down. 

Take one step forward

Tackling an entire problem or big project may not be possible, at least not right now. Taking one simple action in the direction of a larger goal can nudge us out of a hole. Psychologists confirm that the sense of accomplishment from a single small step leads toward a more optimistic outlook and provides motivation to do more. Think about your goals and wish list, then think of one thing you can do. Getting exercise and fresh air is one step that benefits emotional and physical health. Even a 10-minute walk or a short stretch break relieves stress and boosts energy and focus. If you haven’t already, book your vaccine. It’s a small step with a very big impact. 

Reach out

Just when we’ve needed our support systems most, this year has disrupted contact with the people, places and activities that nourish our well-being. Our connections are lifelines but despite good intentions and virtual options, some may have slipped as the pandemic continued. When we’re in a dark and discouraged mood, it’s tempting to retreat even more.

Now is the time to reach out to friends, family and colleagues. Reconnect with a community you’ve missed –a club, team, class or favourite coffee shop. Some people in our lives offer a strong shoulder and understanding ear when we need to talk. Others give us a lift with a laugh, a memory and escape from our cares. Both kinds of connections are good for our health.

Sometimes our personal circle is not enough. Sometimes we need the advice, support and coping tools a professional can provide. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you’re feeling overwhelmed. 

Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA)
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)

If you’re a Health Plus plan member, you have access to extensive free professional Wellness Resources including confidential individual and group counselling, and self-directed resources for stress management.

Despite hope on the horizon, the pandemic wall is real. The best way through is to do what we can and take care of our mental health. It’s essential to regain the ability to thrive. 


This Wellness Moment is from Health Plus Insurance. While we offer information about healthy living, it is not meant to provide professional advice. If you feel you need medical advice, please consult a qualified health care professional. From our family to yours, take care. If you have a comment on these ideas or more to share, please send us a note. We’re always glad to hear from you info@healthplusinsurance.ca.

spring financial reset, réinitialisation printanière de vos finances

How a Spring Financial Refresh Can Boost Your Health

How a Spring Financial Refresh Can Boost Your Health 


Spring is typically a time for renewal. Birds chirping, flowers blooming. But this year with lockdowns and pandemic burnout, it can be hard to see the bright side. Financial uncertainty has taken a toll on Canadians, and not just our bank accounts. Studies link financial stress and anxiety to physical and mental health issues. That’s why a spring financial refresh is so important to wellnessA simple check-in on your financial habits will have a surprisingly positive impact on your overall wellbeing

Consider Your Savings

2020 forced many of us to reevaluate our savings and prioritize building (or replenishing) a healthy emergency fund. If you set savings goals for 2021 maybe it’s time to check in to see how you’re doing. Making savings or investments automatic is a great way to keep on track but it’s always useful to check in periodically to see how your savings goals fit your real-life budget.  

Practice Mindful Spending

Finding a spend-save balance that’s right for you can be a challenge. Here’s where mindful spending comes in. Taking the time to consider your spending will lead to more meaningful purchases that align with your goals and values and lessen the guilt and stress that can accompany large or impulsive purchases. Beyond essential expenses, mindful spending also means spending within your means, supporting local business and donating to charity if that’s what matters to you. And as the pandemic stretches out farther than we ever imagined, as important as saving, taking care of ourselves is equally important. Mindful spending also includes making room in the budget to occasionally treat ourselves. 

Review Your Insurance

When was the last time you looked at your health, dental, life or disability coverage? Have recent life changes left you underinsured or uninsured? Checking insurance off your to-do list adds to your resilience. Good insurance you can depend on provides huge peace of mind, knowing you’re protected against the unexpected.   

Tackle Your Taxes

If you haven’t filed yet, the deadline is almost here. Make sure to claim your health insurance. And remember, if you earned less than $75 000 and received at least one COVID-19 benefit in 2020 the government is providing interest relief; you don’t have to pay interest on any amount owing until April 30, 2022. But do make sure you file on time because late filing fees still apply. 

Health Plus Financial Resources

If you’re a Health Plus plan member your Shepell Employee Assistance Plan (EAP) provides free financial resources. These include debt and estate planning support as well as confidential counselling. More resources are available from the Government of Canada. You’re not on your own if you are facing undue stress or anxiety surrounding your finances.  

Even if 2020 threw you way off course, financial planners stress that keeping our finances in order is a work-in-progress. It’s not about perfection. It’s about the peace of mind that comes with taking charge of challenges and taking the right steps, even the tiny ones.  While a financial refresh may not rank with a massage on your relax scale, you can rest assured it’s good for your overall wellbeing, especially this Spring.    

This  Financial Wellness Moment is from Health Plus Insurance.  From our family to yours, take care and stay safe.  A Health Plus advisor is always available for any questions about your insurance needs.  

Health Plus News - Higher Maximums

New Higher Maximums for Paramedical and Dental

In 2021 You Deserve a Health Plus Plan Upgrade ... 

We designed our Health Plus PRIORITY and OPTIMUM plans to provide small business owners, freelancers and contract workers with better coverage for less than the big-name company plans. To ensure we continue to meet that goal, we’ve added to our plans every single year. 2021 is no different. In an especially tough year for business owners and freelancers, we want to make sure Health Plus plans are there to help. So we made a few changes.  

Paramedical Services  

To make it even easier for plan members to get the treatment they need we’ve increased the paramedical maximum from $150 to $250 per person / practitioner / year without pre-approval. All practitioners are still covered up to $750 per person / year with approval.  

Dental  

For OPTIMUM Plan Members we’ve increased the Basic and Preventative Dental Maximum from $1000 to $1500 per year, effective after 2 years plan membership. (Annual maximums are measured on a calendar year basis and begin January 1st.) 

Always Low Rates  

We’re committed to keeping rates low. In fact, we have never raised our plan premiums. Most insurance companies raise rates every year. We know our clients trust us to provide the best value coverage.  

Wellness Resources Always There to Support You 

Health Plus plans continue to come with extensive professional wellness resources to help with life and business challenges. The Shepell EAP provides professional counselling, online health, financial and family resources and programming all free of charge.  

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Wellness Rituals Wellness Moment

5 Wellness Rituals for a Better Winter

5 Wellness Rituals for a Better Winter

Love or hate the season, this winter lockdowns and limitations on daily life are taking a toll.  Whether we're working too much or too little, almost everyone's work-life balance is off track.  Self-care is suffering, monotony can kill motivation and winter weather doesn't help.  Since it appears we won't be back to old health routines any time soon, we suggest it's time for some new ones.  Here are five wellness rituals to boost your energy and immune system. 

Think about your tech time 

While we hear lots about the benefits of digital detox, let's be realistic.  In the pandemic, technology is a lifeline. Thank goodness for binge TV, games, classes and connections, and like or loathe, Zoom meetings serve a purpose.  Devices 'on' every waking moment and mindless screen time do not. Instead of letting tech take over, take charge. Make it a habit to plan your use. 

Make appointments with yourself to step away from your screen.  Set times when you don't check email, social media or texts, especially at the start and end of your day.  Consciously plan your online time too.  Think ahead about what to watch – maybe a documentary instead of random stuff that pops up. Plan movie night and Facetime coffee dates. Sign up for a course.  Whatever you choose to do or not do, make sure your technology rituals serve you well. 

Disconnect to Reconnect

While managing tech use has benefits, a complete unplug has even more.  When you disconnect from your devices, you’re more in touch with yourself and what matters to you.  And just think of what you might do with the extra time and the perhaps forgotten pleasures of no-tech pursuits.  Page through a beautiful book or old album, or build something – a snowman, cocktail creation, or fix-it solution for home or office. Imagine the possibilities.  Studies show that people who unplug regularly enjoy better sleep, deeper personal connections and greater productivity back on the job. 

Look Forward 

While we can’t control vaccine rollout or the shape of the new normal ahead, we can take charge of our thoughts.  The pandemic has taught us what we value, what we miss, and what we don’t So make it a weekly ritual, daily if you can, to remind yourself of what you treasure and make tangible plans to make room for more of it in your life.  Some may be possible soonsome not for a year.  That’s not the point.  It’s having the vision that’s vital. Psychologists agree hope is key to health.  While memories of days past can bring joy and solace, it’s our dreams and plans for the future that keep us going.   

Savour the Small Stuff

A good place to start is dinner at the table, not in front of the TV. Focus on the food, the flavoursthe space, the company, the conversation.  If you’re eating alone, enjoy memories of shared meals in past.  Harvard Health experts tell us this focused slowdown to decompress at day’s end aids digestion, nutrition and weight loss.

Make Rituals Regular

While every single healthy step counts, it’s repetition that builds resilience.  By definition, something we do regularly with intention, rituals signal our brains that we’re moving from one mode to another.  They help us step back from the fray or step out of a funk. Wellness rituals do wonders for work-life balance.  Make it a habit to assess and plan yours.  

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


Wellness Moment Wellness Around the World

Wellness Around the World

Boosting your health through travel ... even when it's from your couch

Travel is wonderful in so many ways and a change of pace and place does us good. Sadly, at a time when we can't go much further than our own front doors, more than ever many of us desperately need a break and a boost to our physical and mental health. 

That got us thinking. When we travel, we learn, often from simply experiencing new cultures. So we wondered: what health practices and beliefs might we borrow from wellness around the world to help take care of ourselves and each other? Here are just a few. Some we can try without even leaving home and all, without leaving town. 

Stay Cozy

From Denmark, the concept of Hygge: creating a sense of comfort, togetherness and wellbeing. Think staying inside, cozy and warm, candlelight or morning  light, comfort food and conversation with people who make you smile. 

Get Outside

From Norway, the opposite of staying inside: Friluftsliv - the ancient Nordic philosophy that celebrates nature. No need for high end resorts or extreme sports. This is spending time outdoors in an uncomplicated way. Hiking, vigorous or meandering, sitting by the water in summer or snowshoeing in winter if that appeals, maybe birdwatching from your balcony if not. Urban, rural or wild, the point is to open your door, step outside, take a breath of fresh air, and simply enjoy nature. 

Be One with Nature

The concept of Shinrin-Yoku from Japanese culture also celebrates the power of nature to strengthen health. It translates to forest-bathing in English. Of course you don't actually take a bath in a park (there are laws about that). Forest bathing is a slow walk through the woods, being observant and still and listening to the voices of the forest as well as our own, which often can't be heard in the din of daily life. Research shows that time in nature reduces stress, elevates moods and boosts the immune system. 

Take a Power Nap

When the day is demanding, consider Inemuri also from Japan: the power nap. The nap doesn't involve actually going to sleep. It's closing your eyes for a few minutes of quiet, even in a public space. Take a moment, rest your eyes and mind, relax into a peaceful state. It's calming, restores focus and revives energy. 

Think of Others

The concept of Ubuntu from South Africa takes ideas about wellness to a whole new level. Ubuntu is the philosophy of consciously putting others ahead of ourselves, finding common ground instead of focusing on differences, offering mutual respect and compassion. It's a timeless concept backed by current research that confirms that when we step outside ourselves to do something for someone else, it's our health that benefits too. 

And when we return from this trip, there's a healthy idea to revisit here at home: Be Nice. Yes, nice. It might be a Canadian stereotype but nice is kind, nice is tolerant, generous, polite. Think of what more 'nice' on a regular basis can do for everyone's wellbeing. 

There are so many cultures to visit and so much to learn from wellness around the world. And no doubt you have memories or thoughts of your own to add to this list. Please take a moment to explore an idea or two. It will do your health a world of good. 

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

no medical questions asked health insurance, guaranteed acceptance, medically underwritten

‘No Medical Questions’ Health Insurance … when it’s the best financial choice and when it’s not

When you’re shopping for personal health insurance, you'll likely see plans encouraging you to simply sign up …no medical questions asked. Sounds appealing, of course.  While ‘no medical questions’ health insurance plans are ideal for some people in some circumstances, for others they are clearly not the best choice.  In  fact, taking a 'no questions' plan may mean you end up paying more than necessary for less coverage than you could readily get elsewhere.  Here’s what you need to know to help you get the right plan for you and the most for your money.    

When reviewing health insurance plans there are two kinds to be aware of ...

Guaranteed Acceptance 

This is ‘no medical questions asked’ health insurance.  It’s ideal for people with serious health issues (pre-existing conditions in insurance jargon), or people who have high ongoing prescription drug bills. If that’s your situation, you may not qualify for other insurance.  Or if you do, your rates will be high based on your health history and coverage for your particular condition may be excluded. A guaranteed acceptance (GA) plan which doesn’t ask anything about your health and guarantees your acceptance may well be what you need. Some of your health bills will automatically be covered and fortunately there are a few good GA plans out there.  But please read on before you come to any conclusions.  

Medically Underwritten

That’s the industry term for plans that ask questions about your health before accepting you for coverage.  To be clear, these ‘need-to-qualify’ plans can also be very easy to enrol in but will require filling out a simple health questionnaireIt only takes 5-10 minutes to provide your health profile. If you’re generally healthy, it's worth your time. Insurance companies ask health questions to reduce the level of risk they take on, which in turn allows them to offer better plans. With this type of plan you’ll get more and better coverage at much better rates. It’s an expensive mistake to settle for a GA plan if you don’t have to.    

Which type of plan is right for you?

The state of your health makes the difference. For people with certain chronic or past health issues or high drug bills, a Guaranteed Acceptance plan may be the best or even the only option.  If you’re generally healthy with no problematic history, a Medically Underwritten plan will cost you less and cover more.  And you don’t necessarily have to be in perfect health to qualify. Conditions that are considered minor or are sufficiently in the past may not hinder acceptance into a plan that is medically underwritten.      

If you’re uncertain what you qualify for, go ahead and complete a health questionnaire (here’s the easy online one for Health Plus plans).  A good advisor can quickly tell you which route makes financial sense for you.  No question, the best time to apply for health insurance is when you’re healthy.  But if you’re not, it’s not too late to put good protection in place.   

Do you need health insurance

10 Reasons You Don’t Need Health Insurance

You may be skeptical of whether health insurance is really necessary for you. That's understandable. If you're young, healthy, don't spend a lot on healthcare now, why is it worth it? If you're considering whether you need health insurance we're willing to bet at least one of the following reasons has crossed your mind. But how do they measure up in the real world? 

1. I don't take drugs 

That's fantastic. Hopefully, that won't change. However, most people who require medication didn't plan on needing it. While some conditions can be managed holistically through lifestyle changes, others cannot, and the cost for prescription drugs in Canada is rapidly rising. New specialty medications costing over $10 000 per year make up 30% of overall drug spend by working-age people1. Of those meds, most are for chronic, ongoing conditions. We bet you can think of better ways to spend your money. 

2. I'm healthy

Again, that's great. You likely have a combination of genetics and your own effort to thank. Keep up the good work. Despite what you might have heard about insurance people, we don't like to be all doom and gloom, but we've seen enough to know that even with your best efforts, good health is not guaranteed. 

3. I'm young

Oh to be young! It's true that the likelihood of serious physical illness is lower at a younger age. And you're more likely to recover well if you're injured. But adolescents and young adults also have higher prevalence of mental illness. One in two Canadians have had or will have a mental illness by the time they reach 402. It's a good idea to have support in place. Plus, insurance rates are lower for most plans the younger you are because you're considered lower risk. (Health Plus plans have equal low rates across all ages but we're special) We hate to break it to you, but you're not getting any younger. 

4. I'm active 

Physical activity is repeatedly shown to have many health benefits, from reducing the likelihood of heart disease to stress management. That said, if you strain your knee training for a marathon or break a bone hang gliding, you likely want to get back  to those activities as quickly and pain-free as possible. Registered therapists paid for by your insurance can help with that. 

5. I don't spend that much now.

It's reasonable to be concerned about spending money you might not get back. But, insurance isn't a chequing account that you put money in and take money out of to pay your bills. It's a safety net that protects you against risk. While the chance of break ins, floods, and fire are all relatively low, you still insure your home or apartment because you value your belongings and know the cost of replacement would be both financially and emotionally taxing. Your personal health is the same.  

6. Provincial coverage will pay

While we're lucky to have a lot covered by provincial healthcare plans, unfortunately there's still a lot lacking. The bills for out-of-hospital medication, rehabilitation and care are completely up to you. Coverage also varies from province to province, which means that even if you're travelling within Canada, you may be surprised with a bill you wouldn't expect at home. 

7. It doesn't cover pre-existing conditions

It is true that medically underwritten plans (plans with a health questionnaire to apply) require evidence of good health and may deny or limit coverage due to a pre-existing health issue. However, there are other options available. Depending on your condition, you may still qualify for coverage with an adjusted rate, or you can apply for a guaranteed acceptance plan. These 'no medical questions asked' plans will automatically cover a portion of your expenses, regardless of what you're spending now. 

8. I'll get benefits when I find a new job/career

Getting benefits through an employer is ideal. Plans typically offer good coverage and your employer foots at least a portion of the bill. However, with the rise of contract positions, benefits are no longer guaranteed. Even if your new gig comes with insurance, companies often require a waiting period of at least 3 months before you're eligible. Personal health plans can always be cancelled if your new job comes with benefits, or once they kick in. Meanwhile, you're protected. 

9. I'm rich

Lucky you. Any secrets to share? If you're independently wealthy, and can afford to self-insure, insurance might not be necessary for you. Just be sure you have a healthy enough emergency fund to get you through even the worst-case scenario. 

10. It won't happen to me

If you have a crystal ball, can we have a peek too? Of course, you don't want to think of a health crisis or serious injury befalling you or a loved one, no one does. But because you can't be 100 percent confident, why not prepare?

The insurance industry often gets a bad rep for pushing sales. We aren't going to do that. Our job is simply to make sure you understand your options, including the risks of being uninsured. The choice is always up to you. 

Sources:
1.
Telus Health 2020 Drug Data Trends & National Benchmark Report
2.
The Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health 

3 summertime wellness walking

Your Summertime Wellness Tonic

Health Plus Wellness Moment

Summertime Tonic ... especially in 2020

"Summertime ... and the livin' is easy" or so the classic tune tells us. But 2020 has certainly not been easy so far and summer for most of us has turned out much differently than planned. While the summer months are often a healthy time, for many people this year has been challenge.

In summers past, healthy living happened naturally … team sports, adventure travel, outdoor exercisesightseeing walks, concerts in the park, and the simple boost to well-being from the pleasure of special events and traditions with family and friends. Whatever your version of an active summer, this year it’s likely been compromised in some way, if not cancelled altogether.

While most people are doing their best to “pivot” as the COVID-coping buzzword suggests, we’re certainly missing these activities in our lives. It can be challenging to find a new exercise or relaxation routine, let alone make it a habit in the new normal, and physical and mental well-being can suffer as a result. Here’s a boost to your health we recommend. It’s a surprisingly simple activity, even under COVID constraints. There’s no cost, no equipment or lessons needed and distancing is possible.

Take a walk. According to Dr. Mike Evans of St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto along with many other experts, walking is one of the best forms of exercise to increase fitness, build both physical and emotional resilience and ward off ill healthIf you need convincing, take a look at this 5-minute clip from Dr. Mike about the benefits of a half hour walk.

A good walk anywhere is great exercise. A good walk in nature is even better. If you have access to country air, a beach or provincial parkyou’re lucky. But research shows greenspace is what matters. Urban parks and quiet, tree-lined streets also provide that touch of nature that helps lower stress and improve focus and concentration while your body benefits from the exercise. There’s a growing amount of research on the benefit of “Park Prescriptions. 
 
In this pandemic summer, and even into Fall, when the livin may not be so easy, a walk is the perfect tonic. 

This Wellness Moment is from Health Plus Insurance. From our family to yours, take care and stay safe. If you have a comment on these ideas or more to suggest, send us a note. Always glad to hear from you.  info@healthplusinsurance.ca 

If you're a Health Plus plan member, remember you have access to free, professional Wellness Resources

2 Re-opening essentials

8 Essentials for Re-opening that are good for your business and your team

8 Essentials for Re-opening that are good for your business and your team

Business owners everywhere from companies of 1 to 1000's are working hard to adjust to the new normal in the world and the workplace. Whether the changes for your business are temporary, transitional or looking pretty permanent, there is a timeless approach that will help get you and your team back on track when re-opening. It's all about communication. Yes we know ... it sounds like a cliché. But even if you're already pretty good at it, 2020 call for paying even more attention to what and how you communicate with your group. 

As you bring your people back or bring new hires in, here are a few tips to help everyone feel more confident, focused and energized in the back-to-business phase and beyond. 

Talk business with your people ... often, openly, clearly. Even if your people trust you are taking care of their safety, they also need to know details about business logistics. Start with clarity about hours, pay and expectations so people know how policies and expecially any changes might impact their personal life and responsibilities. 

People also want to know about the business as a whole and how new directions or new practices might affect their ability to do their best work and how any changes will affect customers. Good people care about the big picture for the business and tend to worry if they feel service or standards are unclear or compromised.

Be open about any uncertainties you may be figuring out as you go. Let your team know where you're at on those issues, including what's worrying you. Even if you don't have answers, they'll appreciate your honesty and quite likely have good ideas for solving problems. When people feel involved and informed, they are more engaged. 

Ask, listen and learn about personal concerns. It's not that you want or need to hear all the details and stories, nor do you want to pry. But the pandemic has taken a toll in different ways for different people, from financial stress, the demands of work-from-home, loss of social or work connections, or concerns about child or elder care. The more you know what's going on with your people, the more you're equipped to offer meaningful benefits. And simply offering a word of understanding and encouragement in a world of uncertainty goes a long way. 

Ask your people what’s working for them individually, what’s not, and what’s causing stress on the job.  While you may not be able to do anything about a situation, just being aware of a team member’s particular worries or challenges, at work or at home, will give you insight on who might be struggling and where a simple adjustment could make a differenceWhen people feel the boss and colleagues care, they are more focused and committed. 

Offer the best benefits you can.  With distancing rules, personal caution and budget constraints, perks such as lunches, happy hours and gym memberships are on hold, likely for a long time. Instead, flexible work schedules, extended lunch hours for chores that now take twice as long, coupons for family take-out, or a contribution to improved home office tools are examples of the new benefits people appreciate. 

Health insurance is quickly becoming a most valued benefit. People are more concerned than ever about their health and their finances. There are some excellent, low cost options that work for businesses of all sizes, from 1-2 person shops to large groups of contract workers. If you aren’t able to cover even a portion of the bill, you can still provide information and recommend a good plan and broker. Your people will trust a suggestion from you and appreciate that you’ve helped with the homework involved in finding good insurance. 

Focus on wellness, from setting an example to encouraging awareness and self-careespecially when it comes to mental healthMake sure your people know about complimentary counseling and other resources available through your insurance (if you have a plan). Post information on community resources that can help with stress, anxiety and building coping skills and resilience for demanding times.  

Let’s not kid ourselves. While re-opening and heading back to business is a welcome relief, it’s not business as usual. But with awareness and a few simple, tangible strategies, you can help your team move forward from uncertainty and strain to feel more informed, confident, focused and productive. Healthier for them and the business. 

 

  

2 health insurance dollar go further

How to make your health insurance dollar go further

How to make your health insurance dollar go further 

If the past few months have triggered some serious financial planning, you definitely aren't alone, and you may be considering how your health insurance fits in. You likely purchased your health insurance plan to help pay for routine expenses and protect you and your family should the worst happen. But what about in times of financial hardship or other challenges? Can your health benefit plan actually help rather than become a stressful expense? We would argue the answer is a definite yes. A good plan should provide resources to help you through a difficult period and a good advisor should work with you to find a plan that is right for your budget. Here are some tips to make sure you're getting the best value out of your health insurance plan. 

1. Make sure you aren't overpaying.

We would never advise cancelling your plan outright if you can avoid it, particularly in times when you might need access to your emergency savings. But that doesn't mean you can't save money on premiums. Making sure you have the best value plan for your budget is important. Many of us are guilty of shopping on name recognition alone, and while a reputable company is important, big ad budgets rarely equal best value. And choosing a plan simply because it's convenient may cost you a lot over time. Talk to an experienced advisor about the plan options available to you and potential savings. A plan specifically designed for your situation, whether you run your own business or work on contract will offer best value. 

2. Use the Wellness Resources in your plan

More plans today are including wellness benefits. These resources are meant to help you through life's challenges. Check whether your plan includes an EAP (Employee Assistance Plan) or similar program. Plans vary (view Health Plus Wellness Resources here) but often include completely free, confidential and professional counselling. In addition to mental health resources, your plan may include virtual financial coaching or guides, relationship advice, physical health, fitness and nutrition advice. Taking good care of yourself is essential when dealing with stress and times of change. 

3. Help your business thrive

If you provide employee benefits, it's a natural place to consider cutback in rough times. But your people are relying on you now more than ever to feel supported. In turn, they will work harder for you. Research shows that investing in workplace benefits leads to increased productivity and employee engagement. 

If you are self-employed or just starting to build a business, the same or comparable program that provides wellness benefits often provides targeted business advice and resources to help your business succeed. A tool such as the Custom HR Advice that comes with Health Plus plans is an example. 

4. Think Long Term 

While it's easy to focus solely on cutting expenses, getting back to work, helping out loved ones, it's important to take care of your health now, mental and physical. Your insurance will help pay for important routine care, such as dental or physiotherapy to keep you healthy. If you're young and in good health, you're likely getting the lowest monthly premiums for your plan. The fact is there are no guarantees you will get the same rates if your reapply in the future or even that you'll qualify if your health changes. 

When what you're spending matters more than ever, make sure you're making the most of your health insurance dollar. 

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