Employees are less satisfied with health benefits

By The IJ Staff | May 30 2017 09:45AM

Photo: Freepik

Employees are less satisfied with their healthcare plans than they were in previous years, says the 20th anniversary Sanofi Canada Healthcare survey. Just over half (53 per cent) of respondents said their healthcare plans met their needs extremely or very well, whereas in 1999, when the question was first asked, this number reached 73 per cent.

“We have witnessed major changes in the Canadian workplace over the past 20 years, but the value that employees place in their health benefit plans has remained constant,” says Niven Al-Khoury, president, Sanofi Canada. “We all share in a vision to improve the health and productivity of the Canadian workforce, which in turn helps ensure the sustainability of our healthcare system.”

Looking for more flexibility

Respondents said they would like for there to be more flexibility in their benefit plans, and and strongly support having coverage for products or services that are not usually covered, such as screenings to determine personal health risks, coaching sessions from health experts and adult vaccinations.

To receive personalized information to help with their health management, 70 per cent of respondents said they would be willing to share their personal claims data with their benefit plan’s insurance carrier.

Health spending accounts

While 77 per cent of employees have traditional benefit plans, 54 per cent of respondents said they would prefer a flex plan, where they can choose types and levels of coverage. Health spending accounts (HSAs) are another way to bring some flexibility into benefit plans, according to the survey. Employees with HSAs are more likely to agree that their plans meet their needs very or extremely well (60% versus 50% among those without HSAs).

“Wellness programs and [healthcare spending accounts] both give employees latitude to do more based on personal needs,” says Nathalie Laporte, vice president of product development, marketing and strategy, Desjardins Insurance. “These results clearly show that their availability boosts the perceived value of the overall health benefit plan.”

Managing stress

Employee’s workplace can adversely affect their health. Of those surveyed, 22 per cent said their workplace negatively impacts their ability to manage stress. This climbs to 44 per cent among those dissatisfied with their current jobs. Other behaviours were negatively affected by the workplace, including sleep health (16%) and eating healthier foods (9%), according to the survey.

"With results that are clearly more favourable in workplaces that encourage health and wellness, it's disappointing to see a decrease in the number of organizations that encourage wellness,” says Loretta Kulchycki, vice-president, group marketing, Great West Life Assurance. “Are employers taking a sufficiently holistic view?”