Bob Carter is an independent multi-lines consultant representing leading technologies in the fields of life, health, wellness and wealth. These are the views of the author and not necessarily those of Benefits Canada.
Communications must evolve to become more than a pretty poster in a lunch room or piece of ad mail to be sent to and largely ignored by plan members.
Many Canadians travel abroad for vacation, but what about for health reasons?
Plan sponsors need to determine the level of paternalistic concern they will maintain for the people in their employ. We often refer to this as the social contract that exists between the two parties and much has been written about the need to keep the social contract in balance. The balance between providing care and maintaining fiscal responsibility is a key component of the business owner’s basic business survival instinct.
Current pricing practices in the group insurance markets are creating something of a feeding frenzy among carriers looking to maintain existing accounts or win new ones. For some time, market-discounting practices have become the norm where insured rates look more attractive than they might have been in the past.
Today’s plan sponsors and administrators are being pursued more aggressively than ever. Some might feel as if they’ve been painted with some sort of target, given the number of phone calls they receive every day from brokers and telemarketing firms. The offers sound too good to ignore, and, in many cases, one might be tempted to give in. But what happens when a plan administrator or sponsor says yes?
The choice of whether to select an insured group benefits plan versus going the self-insured route depends on a number of variables. Often price plays a role. The challenge is, how do you compare two service models that are on the surface somewhat similar and yet completely different in design?
Encouraging employees to live a healthier lifestyle eventually gives way to the notion that for some, the need for prescription drugs may be largely unavoidable. Plan sponsors must involve all members in an open dialogue which promotes the fact that plan cost containment starts with them. Given that the workforce is aging and utilization rates are rising, plan sustainability depends on the realization that much of the power depends on the purchasing choices of each employee and their extended family members
An executive from a well-known national third-party administrator recently commented how administrative services only (ASO) is hot these days. He further added that several brokers were selling ASO plans as the panacea for all the evils in today’s benefits environment and an instant road to rich discounts of up to 40%. While ASO plans may offer plan sponsors some degree of savings over conventional insured plans, the true benefits may lay elsewhere.
Administrative services only (ASO) contracts have, for the past 10 years, been increasingly recommended to and adopted by smaller companies with as few as 25 employees. Splitting benefits contracts (placing pooled benefits with one supplier and cash flow benefits with another) affords plan sponsors with a customized solution that combines the best-in-class capabilities of two often for less than the price of one.
The notion that generic drugs represent a new and frightening concept has pretty much been struck from our collective consciousness, yet generic utilization rates in drug plans in Canada have not reached the levels observed in the United States and throughout much of Europe.