More employers offering innovative health-care spending accounts: report

While traditional health-care plans remain the most common form of employer offerings, 66 per cent of Canadian organizations are now providing health-care spending accounts, according to a new survey by the Conference Board of Canada.

“As Canadian employers look to appeal to a multi-generational workforce, flexibility and choice are the key watchwords for health and wellness benefits,” said Monica Haberl, senior research associate at the Conference Board of Canada, in a press release. “Supplementing fixed benefits plans with health-care spending accounts provides flexibility and choice to employees while keeping business costs predictable.”

The survey, which polled 217 organizations across Canada with a combined workforce of 1.2 million employees, found two-thirds of respondents reported enhancing or introducing strategies to help employees with mental health and wellness.

Read: 28% of U.S. employers made changes to health benefits in 2018: survey

It also found psychological services had an average annual maximum coverage of $800 in 2018, up from $694 in 2015. As well, 16 per cent of surveyed organizations have increased their psychological health benefits since 2015.

As for medical cannabis coverage, only six per cent of organizations said they cover it and do so mostly through health-care spending accounts. However, nearly half (48 per cent) of respondents said they’re considering covering medical cannabis at some point.

Benefits costs remain relatively steady at 10 per cent of payroll, an average of $9,011 per full-time equivalent, the survey found. And cost containment remains a key priority for organizations, with 34 per cent of organizations ranking cost containment as the top priority for their benefits strategy.

Read: Employers, insurers have role in managing benefits plan sustainability