The Canada Life Assurance Co. is eliminating plastic drug plan cards, with an aim to move to a completely digital experience for group plan members by 2021.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2020, the insurer will begin encouraging its group benefits plan sponsors to opt out of providing plastic drug cards to members. With advancements in digital technology, plan members can access their drug card online or through GroupNet, Canada Life’s benefits app, where they can make claims and check coverage balances. Plan members can also add a mobile-friendly version of the card to their device’s electronic wallet.

Read: Great-West Life, London Life, Canada Life to combine into one company

“In 2018, we issued approximately 1.1 million cards,” said Ryan Weiss, vice-president of product and experience for group customer at Canada Life, in a press release. “Stacked flat on top of each other, the pile would be twice as tall as the CN Tower. I’m confident that when offered the choice, plan sponsors will agree plastic cards are no longer a necessary feature of their plan.”

It isn’t the physical card that gives plan members access to their benefits plan, noted Weiss. “It’s the identification number that’s important. Most providers like dental offices and pharmacies keep a digital record of a client’s insurance information. The plastic card, in most instances, is for one-time use — just like a plastic straw or water bottle.”

In 2020, the company will also be looking at other ways to reduce its environmental footprint, with printed plan member benefits booklets next in line for the recycle bin.

“Reducing and eventually eliminating our paper products is another goal for 2020,” said Weiss. “In this day and age, a searchable, digital format is easier for members to get the information they need, when and where they need it.”

Read: Great-West Life launches benefits solution for small employers

Copyright © 2020 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on benefitscanada.com

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