Cancer is the leading cause of premature death in Canada and is responsible for almost 30 percent of deaths annually. Most cancer deaths are linked to tobacco use, obesity, diet and inactive lifestyles. Personal characteristics such as age, gender, race and a family history of cancer are attributing factors.
What is cancer? It is the result of changes in genes that control the growth and death of cancer-free cells. Normal cells grow and multiply at a certain rate. Cancer cells damage DNA and cause the normal cells to grow at a rapid rate, which leads to tumours. These abnormal masses of tissue can destroy normal cells and travel through the body causing more damage.
While studies indicate that 40 percent of Canadians will develop some form of cancer in their lifetime, research also shows that almost half of all cancers are preventable and that awareness can have significantly positive results. There is a great deal that employers can learn to support employees dealing with cancer and this topic will be explored in greater detail in Part 2.
Education and awareness are key measures to help the fight against cancer. Prevention tips include:
Employers are wise to learn ways to help employees prevent cancer as well as help those who are dealing with it. For more information about resources available to support your efforts, please contact us. We're here to help so that you can focus on what you do best.
There have been dramatic increases in the number of people with chronic illness and these numbers are projected to reach 171 million by the year 2030 according to a U.S. National Medical Expenditure Panel Survey.
From prescription drug costs to the use of physiotherapy, massage therapy and counseling services, it is more likely for plan members with chronic conditions to access the group benefits available to them.
Chronic, complex diseases are conditions such as multiple sclerosis, cancer or rheumatoid arthritis often require the support of various types of health care providers or facilities. Plan members or their eligible dependents with complex chronic diseases have unique needs and in some instances, functional limitations. Health service providers are called upon to work closing with their patients to help address the complexity of managing the condition.
While new speciality drugs or biologics improve the quality of life for plan members with chronic and complex diseases, there is an impact to the increasing costs of private health benefit plans. It will be an interesting and important time to monitor the outcomes of fully insured group plan renewals impacted by the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association Inc. (CLHIA) drug pooling agreement that was launched January 1, 2013.
The increase in health care costs has led to a variety of strategies to manage cost. Plan sponsors and service providers continue to look for engaging ways to communicate and collaborate with plan members. Communications targeting ways for plan members with chronic diseases to be smart healthcare consumers shouldn’t be undervalued. There are simple tips for plan sponsors to share with plan members who live with a chronic disease:
* learn about co-pays for generic, brand and formulary drug plans to avoid additional out-of-pocket costs;
* consider generics if the attending physician believes it to be safe;
* adhere to recommended prescription dosage. Those who self medicate or don’t renew medication on time can find themselves with a host of additional health-related complexities;
* consider consolidating with one pharmacy for all the prescription drug claims. Pharmacist will ensure that the possibility of prescribing for duplication or negative interactions is avoided;
* explore the option of Mail Order refills for chronic conditions requiring maintenance medications such as cholesterol-lowering or blood-pressure drugs. If available within the group benefits plan, this service offers convenience as well as lower dispensing fees.
For more information about ways to enhance your group plan’s effectiveness and manage benefit plan costs, 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.