Do benefits plan members want more personalized health info?

Two-thirds (65 per cent) of plan members said they’d be willing to receive health-related information from the insurer managing their workplace benefits plan based on how they personally use their benefits, according to the 2019 Sanofi Canada health-care survey.

“People value personalization to help them move forward and understand what’s available to them that fits their needs,” said Paula Allen, vice-president of research and analytics at Morneau Shepell Ltd. and a survey advisory board member.

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“There will always be a small group of people who do not accept that even the most stringent confidentiality provisions are real. That cannot be a barrier to moving forward. A time may soon come when people will say, ‘Well, if you’re not going to use my data to my benefit, I don’t want you to have it at all.’”Plan sponsors are eager to see the same thing, with 74 per cent saying they’d like to see members receive that information. Regionally, Quebec (82 per cent) had the most interested plan sponsors, followed by Western Canada (65 per cent). And 90 per cent of all large employers with more than 500 employees were interested, which dropped off significantly (56 per cent) among smaller employers with fewer than 50 employees.

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“It’s definitely encouraging that plan members are more comfortable than not with personalized communications,” said Ryan Weiss, vice-president of group customer market development at Great-West Life Assurance Co. “But we know why many sponsors say that they can’t afford even one person raising concerns about the use of their data, and that shuts things down. Certainly, we understand why people might be concerned, but it’s unfortunate because there is good opportunity there.”Two-thirds (65 per cent) of plan members said they feel confident their insurance company would protect their privacy when analyzing personal claims data, while 13 per cent said they’re very confident. Overall, confidence was down compared to 2017, when 76 per cent said they felt their privacy would be respected and 21 per cent said they’re very confident it would be. Confidence was especially low among plan members who said their work environment didn’t have a wellness culture (49 per cent) and among those who aren’t satisfied with their job (53 per cent).

“Plan sponsors are looking to insurers to push forward with targeted communications on an opt-in, opt-out basis,” said Susan Belmore-Vermes, director of group benefits solutions at Health Association Nova Scotia and a survey advisory board member. “More of us are seeing this as important for chronic disease management and prevention because it will help people understand how lifestyle and other changes they can make will improve their overall health.”

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