Canadian insurers paid out $98 billion in benefits in 2018, an increase of seven per cent over 2017, according to the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association’s annual fact book.
Similar to previous years, this was led by retirement benefits from annuities ($49 billion), health benefits for prescription drugs and extended health providers like dentists and physiotherapists ($36 billion) and life insurance benefits ($13 billion).
More than 85 per cent of small employers that provide pensions, registered retirement savings plans, tax-free savings accounts and registered retirement income funds do so through life and health insurers. Canada’s total pension assets reached $3.8 trillion at the end of 2017, which included $694 billion assets held by about 15,400 employer-provided plans.
In terms of health insurance, 80 per cent of Canadians and their families were protected by private health insurance plans in 2018, up from 73 per cent a decade ago. Of the $46 billion in health insurance premiums paid in 2018, 90 per cent were paid to purchase group plans.
In 2018, insurers covered about $27 billion in extended health-care costs, including prescription drugs ($11.7 billion), dental ($8.5 billion), paramedical and vision ($3.9 billion), hospital ($1.9 billion) and travel ($900 million).
“Over three quarters of all Canadians received benefits from life and health insurers to protect them and their loved ones against life’s uncertainties,” said Stephen Frank, president and chief executive officer of the CLHIA, in a press release. “These benefits allow people to afford the medications they’ve been prescribed, live comfortably in retirement and replace income when they have lost a family member.”