This week marks the launch of the 2014 edition of the annual Sanofi Canada Healthcare Survey. With presentations taking place across Canada, opportunities are created to gain insights about health benefit plans and the views of plan members.
Conducted from January 6-13, 2014 with a national sample of 1,502 primary holders of group health benefit plans, the survey now in its 17th year reveals that plan members are increasingly interested in the workplace doing more to support personal health.
The opinion leaders and employers profiled in the report indicate that more information is needed along with a fresh approach from benefit providers. What factors into the conversation is the concept that stakeholders recognize the need to manage health, not just manage the cost of benefits. Throughout the report, the message is consistent: those who manage health benefit plans as an investment, not a cost, reap the returns of improved productivity, reduced absenteeism and higher levels of employee engagement.
As the workforce ages, the propensity for sickness increases. In fact, half of the Canadian workforce has at least one chronic disease. The survey revealed that plan sponsors who look to create healthier workplaces not only improve their competitive advantage, but they help lower the stress on Canada's public healthcare system. As a result of the survey findings, the private sector is sent a call to action message: regroup and partner to seek sustainable solutions to unmanaged chronic disease as it is the biggest cost driver for plan sponsors.
This report also focuses on two timely and relevant topics: generation gaps and benefits after retirement. With more and more Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) retiring, the window for Generation Y (born 1980-2000) to assert themselves is increasing. Differing from their post-war, baby boomer parents, they are more likely to see benefits as a right and they also are more willing to trade benefits for cash. Part 2 of this blog topic covers key findings related to the generational differences.
With regard to benefits after retirement, the survey reported that 48% of plan members expect access to their current health benefit plan after retirement. With one third of the workforce looking to retire in the next 15-20 years, plan sponsors and carriers will be challenged to raise awareness around post-retiree benefit options. Currently, less than 23% of surveyed plan sponsors offer post-retirement benefits.
A common theme that resonated with the opinion leaders and profiled plan sponsors included the importance of addressing misconceptions and improving communications to feature the purpose of employee benefit plans. Communicating the value of benefit plans to employees is nothing new, but there are innovative and engaging ways to move the dial forward on the topic. For help in addressing this issue or to explore additional details regarding the Sanofi Canada Healthcare Survey, please contact us. We're here to help so that you can focus on what you do best.
Dave Dickinson, B.Comm, CFP, CLU, CHFC
Experienced Benefits Specialist ready to optimize your group benefits and pension plans.