I have a confession. This is really the first year that I’m using my extended health employer benefits. Other than getting glasses and going to the dentist I don’t use my benefits to the fullest potential. Each year I get $1000 to use on paramedical expenses including massage, chiropractor and physio therapy among other things.
Scott has had a couple of pain issues that the doctor recommended going to a massage therapist. After a couple of months of him going and having a good experience I decided that my back pain was enough for me. Babies are heavy and the muscle spasms in my back since almost 2 weeks postpartum were causing discomfort. While I was lying on the table I kept thinking about how much money I had wasted by not using these benefits that were provided to me free of charge. If I got an extra $1000 a year I’m sure I would find a way to work that into my budget without an issue. Why are extended health benefits any different?
How many Canadians have extended benefits?
I am so fortunate that I work for a company that provides benefits at no cost to me. Benefits are awesome but very under used. According to a study published by Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association 24 million Canadians have extended health benefits.
90% of those people have coverage through a work plan. In our case only I have benefits so Scott and Ava as listed as dependents on my plan. The benefits Scott has available come at an extra cost and are not as extensive as mine. According to stats from Stats Canada the Canadian population is just under 37 million. 16.6% are under the age of 14 so just over 30 million people in Canada are of working age. The 24 million would likely include people who are covered via family through their own benefits. I can’t say that for sure but I am speculating due to the increase of temp work and part time jobs that rarely provide benefits. If you work for a small company you might not get benefits at all or have to pay to have them. Also in Ontario some employers reacted to the minimum wage increase by cutting benefits. So my thought process is probably not off too much.
Realizing I’m not alone:
In the 2017 study from Sanofi Pastor on insurance finds that people are not using their plans to the full potential. My company provides a Health Spending Account and is one of 47% of large companies that do so. They are much less common than in the US. Out of the 26% of people with insurance 14% of people do not use it and among those who did the utilization rate was 70%.
Balance of responsibilities:
As an employee it is part of my responsibility to help keep costs down. Unnecessary charges just end up costing my company money which in turn could reduce future benefits. However if it is required and would improve my wellbeing and in turn make me more productive than there are no reasons I should not be using what is available.
Employee Assistance Programs:
Before I went on maternity leave it was recommended that I reach out to the employee program to get information about child care in the area as well as some resources on infant care. They sent me a whole bunch of information as well as a baby book that I still refer to and a small toy for Ava. They also sent me some child care information however that was very out of date and did not help at all. These programs are untapped resources. They can help with stress management and mental health issues as well as major life changes from having a child or ending a relationship. They help provide resources to you and are usually have mobile apps making connectivity even easier. If you have a program in place check it out and see if you could use it.
Get To Know Your Plan:
When I head back to work I’m going to spend some time to review all of the details for my benefit plan. I want to make sure what I select works for our family. I need to make sure that we are using it to support our family health and wellness needs. Just as you know how much you get each pay you should know exactly what your benefits cover to make sure you aren’t missing out on coverage that you need to prevent paying for things out of pocket.
Now off to book another massage.
Tell me, do you have employee benefits and do you use them to support your family needs?