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Canadian benefits plans out of sync with employee health issues

Staff |  www.benefitscanada.com  |   April 8, 2015

The offerings of Canadian workplace benefits plans don’t always target the predominant health challenges facing their employees, reveals a new study by Green Shield Canada.

The survey shows Green Shield Canada’s clients spent approximately $144 million on glasses, orthotic shoes and chiropractic and massage services last year and $100, 000 on dietitians and nutritionists.

This is despite evidence that type-2 diabetes has doubled in Canada since 2000 and eating habits are a significant contributor to the disease.

The study also reveals a rapid increase of paramedical services at younger and younger ages, including chiropractic care for infants and massages for teenagers. The highest expenditure of any service was for massage which starts in the 20s age range and continues well through the 50s.

This trend comes at a time when chronic conditions such as hypertension and diabetes increasingly afflict employees and drive health costs up.

The solution to this trend is not discontinuing paramedical coverage, but rather, avoiding a scenario where paramedical expenses rise at the expense of other important health treatments, Green Shield Canada argues.

“What employees and their dependents like and want versus what they may need must be balanced better for the future,” says David Willows, vice-president, strategic market solutions, Green Shield Canada.

Escalating drug costs are another major employer concern highlighted by the study.

“Yes, these drugs cost a lot, and, while our industry is united in the belief that Canadian employers and individual consumers pay unnecessarily high prices, what cannot be denied is the positive impact they can have on employees,” says Willows. “A drug that can cure hepatitis C or move someone with rheumatoid arthritis from a bed back to work is a sound investment for an employer.”

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