Category Archives for "Blog"

Health Plus New Services

New Wellness Services

We've just added even more benefits. For everyone. 

You know Health Plus already offers great coverage for health bills, routine and unexpected.   Now there are even more advantages that come with your plan

The new benefits we’ve added are not what you might expect. In fact, they’re not usually available if you work in small business or on your own (unless of course you search and pay).  We think that’s just not right.  That’s why we chose these new services for you. 

Health Plus now includes three professional Health and Wellness Resources.  No added cost, no claims required, customized to your needs.  Designed to help you, your family and business thrivethe new services are simply here when you need them.  

Answers, information, someone to listen, professional advice ...

Life, work and relationships can present challenges and questions.  Now with Health Plus you have access to the Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) from Shepell.  For the times you simply want a sounding board or professional view on a health, financial or relationship matterfrom day care options to career moves.  Or the times you’re facing a serious situation that's causing anxiety or poses a risk to you or someone close.   
Your EFAP is available 24/ 7 by phone, email or textin many languages.  The on-line library alone has hundreds of resources on dozens of topics. Experienced Shepell professionals can help connect you with more specialized and longer term services if needed. Used to be only people in a big employer plan had an EFAP.  Health Plus is the only plan that includes it for you ... even when you’re on your own.  With your Health Plus plan, now you can count on Confidential Counselling and Resources.

Fewer side effects, faster route to wellness when you take prescription drugs ... 

A personal pharmacogenetic test is new science that helps your doctor prescribe the right drug in the right dose for your unique DNA.  A simple test you do yourself at home can help reduce adverse / allergic reactions and avoid the ‘trial and error’ process it sometimes takes to find the right meds for physical or mental health concerns.  In some cases, it can be life-saving.  Test results are interpreted by the Health Plus consulting pharmacist who reviews them with you (and your doctor if you agree) and even suggests non-pharma treatment too.  You’re on your way to wellness more quickly with a Personalized Prescribing Plan.   

A professional HR department even when you're a company of one ...

Whether you’re solo, employ staff, or work for someone else, you may have questions about contracts, compensation, policies, or other workplace concerns. Now, you can call the experienced HR professional at our partner, Beneplan for answers, suggestions on best practice, even policy templates. Without the cost of hiring a consultant, when you're a Health Plus client, you can call on Custom HR Advice.  

You can see why we're excited to say Health Plus benefits just got better. 

We’ll be posting details very soon on how to access this toolkit of services.  In the meantime, visit workhealthlife.com, click 'browse as a guest' below the sign in, for a sample of the extensive EFAP support.  If you want to explore any of the three new services further before our next post, please contact us at Health Plus.  416-498-6944, 877-218-0394 or info@healthplusinsurance.ca.   We’ll be happy to connect you directly.   

  • 416-498-6944
  • 877-218-0394
Coworking Guest Blog

Feeling Healthier – and Happier – with Coworking

Just as insurance must change to fit the new world of work, where we work is changing too. We know it can be hard to find good benefits when you’re on your own.  Our friends, the Rostie Group recognize it can also be a challenge to find the right work space. In our first guest blog, the Rostie team explains why co-working might just be the answer and why it’s good for your business and your health.  

Feeling Healthier - and Happier - with Coworking 

In a rapidly changing world, your options for where you shop, live, and even work are broader than they’ve ever been. Entire enterprises can be started and run out of a mobile phone and a laptop.

If you’ve started your own business, you’re a freelancer or do gig work, it can be tempting to set up a home office and call it a day. But you’ll quickly find out that staying in and doing all your work from home may start affecting your creativity, discipline and social skills.

A coworking space can not only help alleviate those symptoms, but may even boost your well-being, and provide new opportunities for business.

Coworking Boosts Creativity

Surrounding yourself with familiar sights may make you comfortable, but true creativity does not come from comfort. It instead comes from the diversity in people and in the places around you. In a coworking space, there is diversity and inspiration. You will meet people who you may have never come across in your neighbourhood, and their own stories and ideas will excite and engage you.

Coworking helps with discipline

Anyone can enjoy a day working from home. Sometimes we all need a moment away from the office. But just as above, the same surroundings that make us comfortable, may also lead to lower productivity. If you can take a nap during the day in your own bed, why wouldn’t you? A nap turns into a longer lunch, which can turn into entire days off.

Having a place to go everyday, to set up and work, and then return home can help with your discipline – to have a clear line between home and work.

Coworking grows your social skills

Humans are social animals. We require company and others around us to develop social cues and learn from each other. While there is nothing wrong with some alone time, historically work has been the place where social relationships have developed. 

A coworking space allows you to still have that camaraderie and interaction with other people that is necessary. Even if you don’t all work for the same company.

Coworking allows you to expand your business via networking

The key to expanding your business is networking. Getting to know other entrepreneurs and workers who have either started their own businesses, or are part of a small team. As entrepreneurs working in the same space, they understand the value and product, and will be your easiest sales.

Additionally, they can help you by telling you what services are helping their business, strategies for growth, and what’s worked for their own business. It’s the sense of community that you can’t get anywhere else.

If you are ready to give coworking a try, either temporarily or permanently, take a look at The Rostie Group in Toronto. They offer daily and monthly coworking options, that all include the following:

  • 24/7 access to 20 Bay Street, WaterPark Place, 11th floor Coworking Room
  • 20 Bay St. business address with mail handling and Reception Services
  • Hi-speed wireless Internet connection
  • 30% Off Meeting Room rates, including 8 free hours of small Meeting Room usage per month
  • Access to a phone at your dedicated desk with a locked filing cabinet upon request
  • Use of business services (printer/fax/copier/admin) (additional charges apply)
  • Use of the Rostie Group Lounge and Kitchen
  • Invitations to all social gatherings, events and networking activities
  • Discounted TriFit gym membership for WaterPark Place tenants only
  • And complimentary coffee
Wellness Moments Friendship

Wellness Moment: A Little Help From Our Friends

Wellness Moment

"I get by with a little help from my friends"

The Beatles are right. Friends matter. Not to argue with the icons but actually, friendship does more than help us “get by”. There’s growing scientific evidence it helps us thrive. Our social connections (note that’s social, not social media connections) boost wellbeing, happiness and resilience. In fact, studies show that people with a solid network of friends live longer.

This may not be news to you. So why this “Moment” on this theme? Because we know what happens. When life gets hectic, what most often slides is time with friends. Even with the best of intentions, between our schedule and theirs, you know how it goes. This week is Mental Illness Awareness Week, not to mention the lead-up to Thanksgiving. It feels like the perfect time to check-in on those we love and take a little time for ourselves. 

So, take a moment. Think of the people you truly enjoy – old and new friends, a favourite neighbour, kindred spirit colleague, or the family member you’d love even if you weren’t related. Set a date ... for coffee, the market, to watch the game or go for a walk. If that’s not possible, plan a phone call. Although it turns out in-person is the best tonic, just hearing each other’s voice will do you both good. 

Wellness Moments Friends

Photo by Ivana Cajina

If you’re wondering how you’ll find the time, remember this. It’s good for the immune system, and everything on your to-do list will go better. We promise. The Beatles would agree. For more on the link between friendship and health: Washington Post, New York Times, The Village Effect: How Face-to-Face Contact can make us Healthier and Happier.

Insurance Jargon

Insurance Jargon in Plain Language

Insurance Jargon in Plain Language ... it's not you, it's them

 Here’s a pitch we hear too often“I have just the plan for you.  Guaranteed issue, no deductibles, high maximums and good co-pay. Great coverage at a great premium because it includes generic substitutions. Underwritten by Befuddle Insurance Co.”     

Ready to sign?  Probably not.  Confused?  You’re not alone.  The insurance world often forgets we’re mere mortals, not insurance botsand gets carried way using industry jargon instead of plain language.    
Insurance is an important financial decision, especially if you’re self-employed or own a business, and choosing the best option takes effort.  Deciphering dense terms should not be part of the chore, so we’ve decoded some common insurance jargon to help clear the fog.    

Insurance Jargon

Premium may sound like something insurers are pitching as the “best” but actually, premium refers to what you pay your insurer. In other words, the monthly rate for your coverage.   Be careful taking the number at face value though.  Low premiums often mean the plan covers much less.   


You're probably somewhat familiar with this piece of insurance jargon.  Commonly tossed around as a plan feature, deductible is the dollar amount you must pay out of pocket before the insurer will begin to pay any portion of your bill.  Deductibles are good for the insurance company because in theory they help mitigate risk.  The idea is that if we’re paying the first bill ourselves we might think twice before incurring an unnecessary expense because “it doesn’t matter, my insurance will cover it”.  The insurer wants to avoid a deluge of minor claims which can really add up.  

Not all plans have deductibles, and amounts can vary, so you’ll want to look into plan details to make sure you’re getting the coverage level that’s important to you. 

Co-insurance / Co-pay

These terms simply refer to what percentage of the bill you’re responsible for paying, after any deductible is taken off the top, and what the insurance company paysFor example, Health Plus Optimum Plan covers 90% of health services such as prescription drugs That means if you have a $100 bill, Health Plus would pay $90 and you would pay $10.  (With Health Plus, there’s no deductible).   


Even the best benefit plans have limits on what’s covered.  Maximums refer to the maximum dollar amount a plan pays for claims during a specific time period.  Maximums may apply for a specific type of service (e.g. massage or physiotherapy) or for all services combined (e.g. an overall dental maximum). The time period in which a maximum is applied may differ as well. It is common to see per year or per visit maximums.    

Maximums are important to look at when comparing plans because they can affect how you'll actually be able to use your coverage and how much of your bills are paid. For example, even if your plan has a high overall maximum for the year, if there is a very low per visit maximum for a service, such as physiotherapy, you will end up having to pay out of pocket for treatment 


Although this term sounds rather ominous (it’s a little too close to undertaker) it actually refers to the money guys, the people who pay your claims, usually a large insurance company. The underwriter reviews your application and assesses risk based on factors such as current health, age, previous health history, or sometimes lifestyle if you happen to be a stunt sky-diver to try to determine how likely it is you will have expensive claims. The underwriter then decides to take you on or denies coverage because they think you pose too big a risk to the plan. They may also approve your insurance coverage but adjust the monthly premium to account for higher risk.  
The bottom line, look for a plan that's underwritten by established, reputable insurers. And it's best to apply when you’re healthy.   

Guaranteed Issue

No doubt you’ve heard the ads  “acceptance guaranteed, no medical info required”.  Sounds easy, doesn’t it And in fact it is straightforward, on the surface. It refers to coverage that is guaranteed to be issued to you regardless of your age or the state of your health. That’s the upside.  The downside is that because these plans don’t involve health questionnaires, the underwriters can’t assess the risk involved in insuring you. So they set the rates high.  You should assume that guaranteed issue plans offer significantly less coverage and tend to be more expensive than plans that require information about your health.     
Guaranteed issue plans can be a good option if you don’t qualify for anything else due to a chronic or serious medical condition. But make sure you do your homework so you know exactly what you’re getting.  You don’t want to lose out on coverage you’re counting on.   
And if you’re currently healthy, don’t rely on guaranteed issue as a fallback for future.  If you become ill or injured, there’s a good chance these plans won’t offer the coverage you need We’ll say it again: the time to buy insurance is when you’re healthy.  

Generic Substitution

Think of this simply as brand-name and non-brand.   Generic drugs have the same active ingredients as their brand name counterparts so they carry the same health benefits.  But they’re sold under a generic label at a significantly lower price.  Substituting a lower cost generic alternative for a brand name drug is a way to keep claims costs lower for the insurance company.  And since your rates are based on the cost of claims made by everyone in your plan, generic substitution saves you money too. But if the generic drug doesn't work for you good plans, such as Health Plus, will substitute the brand name drug  

So here’s to simplicity.  If you come across terms you don’t understand, don’t be shy.  The problem’s not you.  It’s up to your insurance company and advisor to translate insurance jargon and make things clear.   Don’t hesitate to ask.   

personal insurance, health insurance

Personal Insurance 101

Personal Insurance 101 ... what to know and where to start 

Let's face it, learning about insurance is no one's idea of light weekend reading. But it is important to understand what you have, what you need, and what's out there to consider. There are a myriad of different types of insurance, covering everything from natural disasters to Great Aunt Mable's pearls. For now, let’s stick to the basics of health and life. Here's a breakdown of five types of personal insurance you should consider as part of a smart financial plan.

health insurance

Health insurance

First up, health insurance, which covers some or all of your medical bills if you're injured or ill. Think of how important your health is to your work, your personal life, your family. Think of how pricey even routine health expenses can be, let alone nasty surprises.

In Canada, health insurance is split between the province and private insurers. Most of you know that in Ontario, residents are covered by OHIP (the Ontario Health Insurance Plan), but OHIP’s limitations often come as a surprise. While it’s great news for families that the government recently expanded OHIP to cover some prescription drugs for children, for most adults coverage is limited to visits to the doctor, some diagnostic tests, and in-hospital stays. You’re on the hook for everything else.

For this reason 24 million Canadians have opted to buy additional health insurance through private insurers. These plans cover basics like dental and vision care and routine prescription drugs. They also protect you in case of more serious accident or injury that can involve big, unmanageable bills.

Group vs. Individual Health Plans

The holy grail of health insurance is a good group benefits plan through an employer. Count yourself lucky if you have one of these. Good benefits are a huge draw to employees because the employer is required to pay at least part of the cost and all full-time employees are eligible, regardless of pre-existing health conditions.

However, if your company doesn't offer benefits, you still have options. Individual health plans such as Health Plus are available. Just make sure you look past the ads. While you obviously want a good price,  make sure you also consider the coverage maximums and limits for the services that are important to you. Some plans look good on the surface but coverage is actually quite inadequate and their rates keep going up. Look for a plan that balances good coverage and stable, reasonable rates.

Marketing of Health Spending Accounts is also on the rise. These are usually pitched as an alternative to group insurance for small business because they provide reimbursement for a wide variety of health expenses to a predetermined amount (e.g $1000-$2500). Employees/employers pay into an account to cover the claims. The flexibility of HSAs for routine expenses can be appealing but the biggest pitfall? They aren't insurance. If you're faced with a serious medical issue, they don't measure up. 

life insurance

Life insurance pays a tax-free lump sum of money to family or other beneficiaries named in your policy. It can protect your loved ones in the event of your death by providing money to pay funeral costs, debts, or simply to continue paying everyday expenses. Policies are available as term life insurance, which covers you for a specific time period, or permanent life insurance, which as the name suggests, covers you as long as the premiums are paid. Permanent life insurance may also accumulate cash value you can use, should you live to a ripe old age or want the money sooner.

disability insurance

If you become sick or injured and unable to work, disability insurance provides a monthly tax-free payment to replace some of your lost income. Not only can health bills take a toll but so can everyday expenses. Disability insurance helps you maintain your standard of living, even if you’re ability to work has changed.

critical illness insurance

Different than disability insurance, critical illness insurance provides a tax-free lump sum payment if you’re diagnosed with a serious illness such as cancer, heart attack, or stroke. The money is yours to use as you see fit, whether that’s on additional medical treatment or supplies, living expenses, household help, or even a vacation.

long term care insurance

Long term care insurance pays cash to help cover the costs of care in your home or a healthcare facility. Anyone who has helped care for an aging or disabled relative will know good care can be expensive and sometimes too hard to find. Canada's aging population, with seniors making up 15% and projected to rise to 25% within the next 20 years, makes having a plan in place all the more important. With this strain on the system, insurance gives you more control and choice in where and how you live.  

Travel insurance

Although it's not exactly in the same category of benefits, travel insurance gets an honourable mention as sixth on our list because it can be confusing to sort out. It’s also part of smart planning. When looking it's especially important to be clear on what you need and what a plan covers. Out-of- Canada emergency health coverage, a very good idea to protect yourself in case of illness or injury while you’re away, is included in some but not all health insurance plans. And some plans limit the activities covered. Additional travel insurance is also available to cover risks such as trip cancellation, delay, or lost baggage. All of these mishaps can put a serious damper on an otherwise great trip so why not plan ahead. 

So that’s the list of personal insurance to help protect your cash now and for the long run. And that’s not just our view. In a recent Globe and Mail article "Forget falling stock markets. These are the things in life you really should be worried about" Rob Carrick includes insurance as part of sound money management.

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