Calgary Group Benefits

Group Insurance Calgary

Calgary Group Benefits

Cost-Reducing Strategies

Many small to medium sized businesses may have questions about the cost-effectiveness of group benefits. While several of our posts have outlined the many advantages of offering competitive group benefits, Calgary employers may also be weighing these advantages with the financial cost, which in many cases is rising.

In today’s blog post, we will outline several ways to save costs on Calgary group benefits, organized into three different categories: trimming benefits; restructuring health benefit systems; and offering benefits that differ from the typical insurance or cost-reimbursement model. Which option is best depends on the employer’s situation and the makeup of the workforce. Some employers opt to combine cost containing methods from each of the three categories, creating a group benefits plan that is highly tailored to their workforce’s needs.

Calgary Group Benefit Cost Containing Options

  1. Trim existing benefits or increase the employee’s contribution

Employers may be wary of trimming core health benefits, and with good reason: many employees rank core health benefits as more important or desirable than a raise. Ín situations where benefits absolutely must be eliminated, it can be helpful to listen to employees’ feedback on which benefits are most useful, or to examine which benefits are being claimed the most and the least. Other options to save costs without changing the conventional insurance-type benefits system include:

  • Limiting retiree health benefits.
  • Providing coverage for generic substitutions for prescription medicines or excluding certain drugs from coverage.
  • Maintaining the same coverage but increasing the employee share of premiums.
  • Reducing hours or offering fewer raises, but maintaining health coverage as an “anchor benefit”.
  • Offering fewer benefits to part-time employees.
  • Tightening rules surrounding spousal coverage: if the spouse has coverage, some companies may create rules or limits about overlapping plans.
  • Finally, before cutting anything from your benefits package, look for a different insurance provider. Sometimes simply “shopping”around with different insurance carriers can help you find a traditional benefits plan with rates meets your needs.

  1. Choose other health coverage options

The rising costs of healthcare have given rise to new ways of providing health coverage that are touted as being both more cost-effective for employers, as well as more accessible, customizeable for employees. These changes range from shopping for a different policy or carrier to shifting towards a “consumer driven” health coverage model, based on plans or savings accounts that put more responsibility on the owners. Online health services are also becoming a popular addition to traditional benefits. Employers interested in changing from an insurance-type group benefits plan to a more “consumer driven” one can look into:

  • Health Savings Accounts: Health savings accounts can hold contributions by both employees and employers. These savings accounts are portable, and the balances can be used tax free to cover medical costs.
  • Health Reimbursement Arrangements: These plans are funded by employers.Many employees find these plans advantageous because any unspent balances can be used in a following year. However, HRA fund balances cannot be carried to another workplace if the employee leaves the position.
  • Telehealth:Telehealth is a term that is used to describe a system that allows employees to access to doctors or councillors by phone or online. It has the added benefit of allowing employees who are ill to discuss their situation with a professional before making a trip to the doctor or clinic. Additionally, employees wishing for mental health support can also find this option helpful.

  1. Implement alternate health and wellness programs

Employers are also beginning to focus on completely new types of benefits plans, that go beyond simply restructuring the basic format where the employee and employer pay for the costs of medical treatment. These new types of health plans have a strong focus on preventive care, mitigating stress, and the helping employees achieve the benefits of an overall healthy lifestyle. These plans may include:

  • Subsidies for diet and fitness programs. For example, free or subsidized gym packages, dietician visits.
  • Nurse-coaching and other wellness programs, such as smoking cessation or stress reduction programs.

In conclusion, while offering employee benefits is an important way to recruit and retain top talent, employers don’t need to fully shoulder the cost of an expensive group benefits plan. Calgary businesses also should not completely forgo offering a health plan. Some surveys have shown that employees are willing to deal with taking on greater portion of the payments for their health coverage if it offers them choices to better meet their needs.With strong communication in the workplace as well as consultation with a Calgary group benefits specialist, it is possible for employers to offer an adequate and fair array of health and wellness benefits to staff without taking on costs that are too steep for them to handle.

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For more information on Group Benefits, contact us at (403) 299 1290.


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