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Category Archives for "Insurance"

small business employee benefit

5 Common Small Business Employee Benefit Myths

5 Common Small Business Employee Benefit Myths

The employee benefit plan is a staple of large corporations. But as a small business owner, you may feel you have no good options. Traditional group insurance is not cost-effective for groups of fewer than 10 people. This leaves owners with smaller teams with poor coverage options for astronomical rates. When you care about your team, even if that's just you and one other person doing the jobs of 5 people, are you out of luck? Short answer, no. 

Let's break down some common misconceptions about health insurance for small business. 

Myth #1: You need a minimum number of employees to offer benefits

Many small business owners assume only big companies can offer their people great benefits. That's not true. Whether you're a business or 1 or 5000, there are great insurance options. However, when it comes to insurance, one size does not fit all. A plan specifically designed for small business will give you the benefits you want and include measures to keep your costs reasonable. Individual insurance plans can also be great options that offer flexibility for small or growing businesses, or businesses with a lot of contract, part-time, or freelance workers who would otherwise not qualify for a traditional group plan. These plans are tax-deductible too. 

Myth #2: There are no options for part-time or contract workers

Part-time and contract workers tend to get the shaft when it comes to traditional group insurance programs. Group insurance rules stipulate that very small plans must cover all full-time employees. Part-time employees generally don't qualify at all. There are options available that include all workers regardless of full or part-time status. These plans can be portable, which means workers have the option to carry a plan with them between contracts, or if they change jobs. Health Spending Accounts (HSA) can also help provide benefits to a diverse group of employees. But keep in mind an HSA is not a replacement for insurance. 

Myth #3: Employee benefit plans aren't affordable for small business

Insurance rates are determined based on claims made by plan members, the employees in a traditional group plan. Due to size, a small business is at much larger risk for steep rate increases when employees use their insurance. We know, it doesn't seem fair. The good news is options such as Health Plus PRIORITY and OPTIMUM plans offer excellent coverage and keep rates low. They also give owners flexibility on who to cover and how much to contribute to the cost. The risk of high claims is dispersed across all the businesses who are members of the plans. This keeps rates stable. If you do opt for a group plan, a dedicated small business advisor can also help you keep costs down with a plan design that will work for you and your team. 

Myth #4: The administration of employee benefit plans is a lot of work

This can be true. Traditional group insurance plans require a fair amount of paperwork and it's your responsibility to make sure your employees enrol. However, if you choose to go the non-traditional route, you can get quality benefits and leave the administration to the insurance experts. 

Myth #5: Health insurance isn't that important anymore because employees want new perks such as remote work

While it's definitely true that today's workers care about holistic benefits, not just a pay cheque and a dental plan, health insurance is still incredibly valued. In fact, 8 in 10 Canadians value health insurance above other insurance included in benefits packages. As well, some plans already come with or can be designed to include additional health and wellness benefits, such as an Employee Assistance Plan (EAP), your team will appreciate.

Your business is unique. What works for someone else might not work for you. The best way to figure out what's right for you is do your research, talk with your team, and work with a qualified small business advisor. On top of offering exclusive health plans you won't find anywhere else, Health Plus is a licensed broker and expert in small business benefits.  

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. 

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 

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.

travel insurance, assurance voyage

Do I really need travel insurance?

It’s safe to say many of us are dreaming of travelling once again, whether near or far. In those dreams, our trips are flawless, with great sites, great food, great people. If all your past trips have gone smoothly, or even if you’ve had a minor health issue in a destination with accessible, affordable healthcare, you may be questioning whether you can get away without travel insurance.

While chances are your future travels will be just as smooth, seasoned travellers know not everything always goes according to plan. And as insurers, we’ve seen the costs of an accident or illness on vacation.

To help you prepare for your next trip, let’s break down what travel insurance can offer.

Emergency Health Coverage

This is the most important type of coverage you should have when travelling. Emergency out-of-country medical coverage will pay if you have an accident or unexpected illness during your trip. Healthcare costs in some countries can be staggering, including our southern neighbour where a hospital stay can be thousands of dollars per day. Another benefit that is often overlooked is support in navigating the health system in a foreign country and finding quality care quickly. This can make the difference to your health and potentially salvage your trip.  

Health Plus plans include emergency health coverage for up to 60 days per trip. Coverage includes:

  • 24/7 access to a travel assistance hotline, for help accessing safe, local medical care
  • Medical costs such as exams and hospitalization
  • Emergency medical transportation or repatriation, if necessary
  • Certain out-of-pocket expenses in the event of hospitalization (e.g.child care)
What about COVID?

At the beginning of the pandemic, many insurers limited coverage for COVID-19 related expenses in accordance with travel restrictions. Most of those limitations have since been lifted, although specific coverage will vary by insurer. Cooperators, who provide the travel insurance included in Health Plus plans cover COVID-19 while travelling. Tests required for travel purposes such as border crossing are not covered.   If you have a pre-existing condition or any chronic health issue, make sure you check your policy for any exclusions related to travel.  

Trip Cancellation, Interruption & Lost Baggage

Many people focus on these areas of coverage, because let’s face it, having to cancel or reschedule a trip or losing your belongings is disappointing, stressful, and expensive. Others take the approach, don’t travel with anything you can’t afford to lose. After all, your belongings can be replaced, your health cannot. If you do choose to purchase this type of travel insurance (it’s not included in Health Plus plans), it is important to read your policy as many have restrictions and limitations.

It’s always up to you to determine how much risk you’re willing to take. But when it comes to your health, we advise you to protect yourself when travelling. The risk to your wallet, health, and trip just isn’t worth it. Check your existing coverage to determine exactly what you’re already covered for and work with a qualified advisor to fill in any gaps.

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 

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. 

health insurance after termination

Health insurance after job loss

health insurance after layoff

What you need to know about health insurance if you are laid off or terminated

Along with all the other stress of job loss or change, uncertainty about your insurance is a concern you don't need at this time. If you were covered under an employee plan, your benefits will change and eventually stop. Here are a few points to help you understand what happens to your health insurance after termination and what to consider in order to protect yourself and your family.  

If you are temporarily laid off  

While not required, coverage is often continued through the duration of the temporary layoff, typically up to 3 months. However, this timeframe is at the discretion of your employer. It’s important to ask how long each benefit will remain in place (life, disability and health insurance). Maintaining benefits coverage is one factor that may allow a temporary layoff to extend beyond three months. However, extension is not the usual practice and requires specific agreement between the insurance company and your employer.  

If you've been terminated now or temporary lay off turns into permanent termination

Benefits can continue for a short period after your job ends but the length of time varies. It is based on a formula of factors including the rules in your province, your length of service and the terms of your job / employment contractIt’s important to receive specifics from your former employer about the end date of your benefits and check your provincial legislation to ensure your rights are met. You can see guidelines for Ontario requirements for the period following notice of termination here. 

Options to replace your benefits exist but some are only open for a short time after your current plan ends.  

If you’ve been terminated or are otherwise losing your coverage, there are other good plans to consider. Some are tied directly to the date your current plan ends and only available for a short time.  It’s important to know that you don’t necessarily have to go with the option your employer or current benefit provider suggests. If you’re healthy, you’ll find better value at lower cost elsewhereWhat’s important is that you gather the information now.  You don’t want to miss a deadline for transfer to a new plan, pay too much, or take the risk of having no insurance at all. 

We strongly advise you to talk to your employer and an insurance advisor now.     

These typical practices are guidelines only and not cast in stone. Unusual circumstances could result in something entirely different.  If an employer shuts down the business, declares bankruptcy or is going through financial hardship such as the pandemic-caused downturn, there are no hard and fast rules about continuing employee benefits and no guarantees for you. We advise you to get the facts now about the status of your benefits and understand your options for disabilitylife and especially health insurance

We're always glad to answer your questions and especially in these uncertain times. 

Note: If you’re a business owner who has let people go or need coverage yourself, Health Plus plans are a very good option to suggest to your people or consider for yourself in place of a typical employee plan. They are more affordable and flexible than traditional group insurance. Visit Health Plus for Teams for more information on benefits for owners and teams or contact us.