As technology and heightened customer expectations spur demand for change in life and health benefits, the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association is aiming to be “proactive and lead the discussion” on significant issues facing the industry, according to its new president and chief executive officer.

There are many questions about big data, says Stephen Frank, who took over the role on July 1. While technological advances have benefited the industry by making information more accessible, they’ve also sparked debate on how much data companies can collect from individuals, he notes.

Read: Stephen Frank named new president of CLHIA

Specifically, the CLHIA wants to see a revision of Bill S-201, the Genetic Non-Discrimination Act, which prohibits employers or insurance companies from requiring individuals to undergo genetic testing or disclose the results of a test. Frank notes the provisions could cause insurers to inaccurately price certain policies. “Costs may go up across the board, and we’re worried people will be priced out of the market.”

The CLHIA wants the the bill changed so it provides a “more balanced solution for Canadians,” says Frank, noting the Quebec government is already appealing the legislation because it considers it unconstitutional. “We’re supporting that court case. We believe it’ll be ruled unconstitutional and we’re striving for what we think is a good balance.”

Read: Does this genetic testing bill threaten the insurance industry?

Frank also notes employers continue to face challenges around sustaining their drug and benefits costs. “The consensus is that drug prices in Canada are too high,” he says.

But with the federal government examining drug price reviews by the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board and Quebec’s recent move to issue tenders for generic drugs, Frank says there’s pressure for things to change.

Read: How should the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board be changed?

Read: Quebec move on drug bids ‘one to watch’ as private plans expected to benefit

In the next few months, the CLHIA will “try to get ahead and reshape the issues,” says Frank.

“There’s three areas we’re focusing on right now,” he adds. “There’s this whole concept of treating customers fairly; rethinking our distribution level, the kind of [fee] disclosures we provide; and how we compensate advisors.”

The CLHIA is also aiming to review policies around the distribution of financial products in the coming months, according to Frank.

Copyright © 2018 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on

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