Every Canadian wants a little more money. But what if you were offered more money in lieu of your health benefits plan?

According to the 2011 sanofi-aventis Healthcare Survey, 59% of group health benefits plan members in Canada would rather keep their benefits plan than receive $10,000 in cash. When the amount is doubled to $20,000, 48% of those asked would still choose their benefits over cash.

The study explores what Canadian employees in a wide range of industries think of their health benefits programs and interprets the findings to help employers better manage employee health benefits.

“Understanding employers and demonstrating the value of improving the health of Canadians is fundamental to sanofi-aventis Canada,” said Hugh O’Neill, president and CEO. “The information in our survey highlights how employers and insurers can improve the satisfaction of their healthcare plans. Better healthcare plans mean healthier employees, better productivity and less pressure on Canada’s public healthcare system.”

Supporting wellness
The survey, meanwhile, indicates strong support for health promotion or wellness programs. Sixty percent of surveyed employers say they already offer such programs, and 68% plan to invest more money in this area within the next year.

However, fewer plan members report that their employers promote or provide wellness programs: this year’s result of 23% is down from 29% a year ago and 31% two years ago.

“This slide is very concerning; there is an undeniable need to better engage Canadians, both in their work and in their own health,” said Chris Bonnett, a member of the survey’s advisory board and president of H3 Consulting. “Many employers support this, but the survey suggests more effort is needed to ensure their workforce investments are relevant, effective and visible for the employees who stand to benefit.”

Virtually all (96%) of the plan sponsors surveyed agreed that it would be useful to link the health status of their employees to measures of profitability in order to better demonstrate the value of health benefits, but it seems difficult to do so.

Adherence an issue
Almost half (45%) of plan members say they take at least one medication to manage a chronic disease such as diabetes or hypertension. Yet studies show that non-adherence is a real issue.

“Complications arising from unmanaged chronic diseases are a huge challenge for our public healthcare system,” said O’Neill. “For example, in Quebec, people with three or more chronic diseases account for 71% of all hospital admissions. We should address the question of how we will collectively manage this issue, beginning now.”

The government role
A clear majority (86%) of plan members agree that governments should actively support employers that promote better health and fitness. When asked what level of involvement governments should have in encouraging healthy workplaces and healthy employees, 93% responded that they should have a high level of involvement.

“Governments, employers, employees and unions all want the same thing—a healthier population and a sustainable health system,” said Bonnett. “Each party makes an important contribution. What’s needed now are a more collaborative spirit and better co-ordination among those who are already doing good work in this field.”

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

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